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LiDAR 3D laser scanning could improve airport safety

June 16, 2014

Laser scanner manufacturer Neptec Technologies has teamed up with researchers at Technische Universität Dresden in Germany to work on a research project that looks to improve the level of safety at German airports using innovative LiDAR technology. Neptec Technologies will turn to its Obscurant Penetrating Autosynchronous LiDAR (OPAL) sensor, which Optics.org noted is able to be used in harsh conditions and operates at a 1540 nanometer wavelength, to complete the project.

LiDAR and airport safety
According to Neptec, the Dresden University project will work to detect any vehicles or obstructions that could collide in German airports. It will use Neptec's OPAL-360 technology to have real-time 3D visualization of large areas of the airport environment. Since the technology uses non-overlapping scan patterns, Neptec noted it helps to prevent blind spots from occurring. According to Neptec, there have been issues with LiDAR-based surveillance technology in the past in regards to working in numerous types of weather. Neptec was chosen for the project because its OPAL-360 technology is able to penetrate numerous types of weather conditions, giving airport controllers information on the airport environment and vehicle movement during even dusty or foggy conditions. Essentially, OPAL can improve visibility during hard weather, which is important for airport safety.

"Unlike conventional approaches to dealing with obscurants, such as range-gating or multi-echo technology, OPAL distinguishes between the lidar returns from obscurant particles versus objects of interest in real-time," Neptec said about its technology, according to Optics.org."This technology works in near zero visibility conditions and has been extensively tested for various types and densities of obscurants."

Airport accidents often occur during harsh weather conditions. According to Neptec, dusty, snowy or foggy conditions can greatly obscure pilots' views of their surroundings, making it increasingly difficult for them to be aware of the type of situations they are in. When pilots are trying to land in harsh conditions, accidents are possible, both with aircraft landing incorrectly and causing damage or pilots being aware of other vehicles and people on the ground, putting those on the aircraft and on the ground in danger. In addition, Optics.org reported that ground handling accidents, such as when two airplanes are taxiing, can happen if there is little visualization of the surroundings.

LiDAR 3D laser scanning technology may soon become essential to airport safety. LiDAR's continued advancement may even have wide-ranging benefits for numerous industries.