Lidar Emerges as A Powerful Technology for Today’s Security Solutions

As the demands on security-related technology increase and evolve, new perception systems have the potential to vastly improve public safety and security performance. Velodyne Lidar is at the forefront of delivering these technologies to improve threat detection and traffic management in airports, transportation, and energy infrastructure, as well as commercial and private facilities. Velodyne’s lidar technology is powering a new generation of safety and security solutions today.

To learn more on how safety and security systems are evolving with the addition of lidar, we connected with Jon Barad, Velodyne’s Vice President of Business Development.

VL: What is the current state of the security industry?

Jon Barad: Most of today’s security and monitoring systems have been traditionally designed around camera technology. These camera systems are mostly passive, functioning primarily as either a deterrent to bad behavior or a record to be accessed after an incident, rather than a real-time safety and security tool. When manual resources are used to monitor camera feeds, the job is both labor intensive and tedious, and results in only a small percentage of security footage being reviewed and analyzed.

With the introduction of advanced high-performance computing and computer vision, there has been considerable progress in making cameras smarter and autonomous. But the computational requirements to power these cameras can present a challenge and cameras only provide images in two dimensions without depth measurements. This often limits the range at which computer vision can be effective, and makes cameras prone to optical illusions. For example, when target objects have low visual contrast with background scenery or when shadows stretch across a scene, costly false negative or false positive readings are often produced.

This inadequacy of camera-based systems has driven the need for an alternative technology solution that actively monitors environments and accurately alerts security professionals to actionable events.

VL: How can lidar technology address the perception shortcomings in current security systems?

JB: Security applications of the future will be smart, efficient, and automated. This includes enhanced threat detection and accurate real-time notification in airports, retail, intersections, and both private and public spaces. As the desire for smart security and automated monitoring systems increase, lidar will play a key role in enabling the next generation of security solutions. 

Velodyne sensors provide long range, real-time, centimeter-level distance measurements of surrounding objects in all lighting conditions. This capability gives awareness in 3D space for users to easily define and monitor customized digital boundaries that are used to enable highly reliable and consistent detection, tracking, and counting of objects and people, day or night.

One lidar sensor can more efficiently cover the area of multiple cameras in security applications. Employing a lidar-camera hybrid system can significantly decrease the implementation and operational costs over a camera-based security system.   

VL: Privacy is often cited as a concern with camera-based security applications. Can lidar play a role in privacy protection?

JB: Yes, there are increasing concerns that facial-recognition technology will be used for general surveillance. Sixteen and 32 channel lidar being used today in security applications does not allow for facial recognition. A system that utilizes lidar as the initial source of object detection data could be used to enable a security solution that preserves trust and anonymity. This is especially important in applications involving the general public, such as retail analytics and pedestrian traffic management.

VL: What are some of the use cases where lidar is most effective in security applications?

JB: Lidar point clouds enable customizable non-physical boundaries – establishing fenceless barriers. After detecting a defined perimeter breach, lidar-based systems can accurately classify and track objects, thus eliminating the time, cost, and inconvenience of false response monitoring. Example use cases include perimeter security, pedestrian traffic monitoring, pedestrian counting/analytics, and indoor location positioning detection. 

Our partners are installing these systems into pedestrian malls, city intersections, retail stores, airports, boarders, and many other locations.

VL: Will lidar replace cameras, or do you envision multi-sensor system architectures?

JB: There are a variety of system architectures that can be designed with lidar: some with cameras and some without. PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) cameras are often used in surveillance applications and typically require manual control. Lidar technology is complementary to PTZ cameras, by enhancing the ability of a PTZ camera to maintain continued focus on an object or person of interest, in place of needing an operator in a remote location. Once a threat is identified, data from a lidar sensor can help control how to position the camera lens to track anything in motion.  However, there are instances where people-counting and location awareness are all that is required. In these cases, lidar is a good candidate to simply replace the camera.

Learn more about Velodyne’s security solution HERE.

Share this article