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What is the Difference Between Radar and Lidar?

Article Series: How LTI Lasers Work

Radar and lidar are the two most common technologies used for traffic safety applications. When evaluating traffic safety products such as handheld speed guns, understanding the difference between these technologies ensures the right solution for your specific needs. Essentially, each technology uses different energy wavelengths to get the job done.


What is Radar?

Radar is an acronym that stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. This technology uses radio waves to calculate the distance of an object. A sensor transmitting device measures the distance of an object using the length of time it takes for the radio waves to reflect and return to the device.

Commonly used for speed enforcement, other radar applications include:

Radar waves are a lower frequency and longer wavelength than the light waves associated with lidar. Because of this, several limitations for this technology include:

While these are significant drawbacks to using radar with speed enforcement applications, there can be benefits to this technology. With a longer wavelength, radar energy can better penetrate rain, fog and snow. We see how this works in the weather reports. It can deliver better results in these conditions if the operator can visually identify the target.


What Is Lidar?

Laser Tech’s (LTI) family of laser measurement devices are based on lidar technology. Lidar is an acronym which stands for Light Detection and Ranging. With lidar technology, transmitted discrete pulses of laser light are used to calculate the distance between the lidar device and an object being measured. Lidar devices can transmit laser pulses at a rate up to 25,000 pulses per second. These high pulse rates increase the number of measurement samples collected. This additional data increases the accuracy of the measurement while maintaining a measurement time that is less than one second.

Lidar’s sensitivity to signal reflections when coupled with precision timing circuitry, provides a variety of benefits:


Industry Leading Lidar Technology

Laser Tech developed the first police lidar speed enforcement unit in 1989. The accuracy and versatility associated with lidar makes this technology ideal for use in handheld speed guns. The LTI 20/20 Marksman provided the first time that law enforcement officers were able to aim through a scope, select the specific vehicle they wanted to target, and achieve highly accurate speed measurements. Since then, Laser Tech has remained on the forefront of lidar technology. With over 35 years of experience, we are industry leaders in speed enforcement devices.

Laser Tech’s handheld lidar speed guns provide you with a variety of benefits, including:


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