Missions to solar systems bodies must meet increasingly ambitious objectives requiring highly reliable soft landing, precision landing, and hazard avoidance capabilities. Robotic missions to the Moon and Mars demand landing at predesignated sites of high scientific value near hazardous terrain features such as escarpments, craters, slopes, and rocks, require large-format LADAR with high resolution. Other applications include: hazard avoidance, navigation, docking, LIDAR, and optical communications.
The discovery of increasing uses of and diverse applications for LIDAR data has led clients to press LIDAR providers for more accurate data with better classification results. With better accuracy, it will be possible for LIDAR providers to create new and improved methodologies, thereby improving their ability to deliver quantifiable data. Currently, the top three global uses of LIDAR data are: 1) topographic mapping; 2) flood risk assessments; and 3) watershed analysis. Natural resource applications in geology, water, and forestry are expected to increase in demand, and hydrology / flood applications will continue to grow, as well as power utility applications. In addition to these top-three expected growth areas, other applications include automobile collision avoidance, autonomous navigation, and others.