LiDAR SLAM: what it is and how to eat it
August 09, 2022
SLAM - Simultaneous Localization and Mapping - is a process, or simply, a collection of algorithms in a sensor in a moving body (a robot, car, or drone) that maps an environment without prior information about it, while keeping track of its own location. LiDAR, in the other hand, is a sensor that detects objects and measures distance to them using light rays and measuring the time that it takes for them to reach an object and come back. Together, they make an excellent couple! in this article, we will try to brief you on LiDAR SLAM, its difference from GNSS and Visual SLAM, and how it can be used in different industries. Let’s dive in!
Localisation: GNSS vs SLAM
SLAM is often described as an alternative to a widely-used navigation system - Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). GNSS provides an accurate absolute positioning on Earth by using a constellation of satellites. However, it is not always precise and available in environments such as tunnels, caves, etc. Additionally, GNSS won’t be able to provide mapping, which is crucial in some scenarios. In such circumstances, accurately mapping an environment and navigating in it safely is achieved using SLAM. Mobile robots equipped with SLAM can be used in mining exploration, sea analysis, search and rescue, tunnel inspection, and so on. Main differences between GNSS and SLAM are summarized in the figure below:
Mapping: Visual SLAM vs LiDAR SLAM
LiDAR SLAM is a navigation process that uses a LiDAR sensor as a means of environment perception and surrounding data collection. “Why not use visual SLAM?”, one may ask.
Visual SLAM (vSLAM) methodology adopts video cameras to capture the environment and construct a map using different ways, such as image features (feature based visual-SLAM), direct images (direct SLAM), colour and depth sensors (RGB-D SLAM), and others. One of the biggest challenges that researchers face when dealing with visual SLAM is the performance of robots in conditions with varying lighting and weather.
LiDAR, on the other hand, is a sensor that can successfully operate and obtain 3D point clouds that can be easily interpreted to perform SLAM regardless of illumination levels or weather conditions. Thus, LiDAR SLAM is the choice, when factors such as lighting and climate are present in the picture.
Today, LiDAR SLAM is the prime component of mapping systems dynamically, without the need of complex and heavy hardware setups. It saves resources (human, time, costs), and gives an opportunity to create mapping of an area beyond human reach. Kodifly has started to extensively utilise LiDAR sensors in the projects to bring value to its customers through innovation, impeccable expertise, and long-term impact. Respective use cases include railway localisation, passenger safety, intrusion detection, to name a few.
How can LiDAR SLAM address industry needs?
Having a technical description of LiDAR SLAM is good, but mentioning actual applications with real impact is better. So, how can LiDAR SLAM address the industry needs?
- SLAM for indoor operations automation. Automated inspection of large indoor environments requires vehicles to localise accurately within space, while building 3D maps of the infrastructure. LiDAR SLAM is the favorable approach, being able to conduct building inspection with high level of detail, depth, and high resolution. With the boom of e-commerce, many warehouses decide to automate their operations by incorporating automated fleet management. Robots and drones need localisation software to be aware of their surroundings while navigating in indoor environments such as warehouses, plants, etc. Kodifly can provide that.
- SLAM for surveying and mapping. Use cases for this SLAM application are infinite. In agriculture, SLAM-enabled drones collect data on stock volume & vegetation density for better monitoring. In safety & security industry, SLAM UAVs can be used to detect threats and intrusion. In construction industry, SLAM is used for BIM, helping at every stage of project lifecycle. In mining and tunnels, SLAM can replace GNSS to monitor infrastructure conditions and detect changes. Kodifly can provide the required software and customize it for application-specific needs.
- SLAM for Smart City. In the context of Smart Cities, SLAM is useful when integrated with IoT devices that can collect and process point cloud data to create city maps. City maps which are useful for any smart city project involving traffic management, crowd control, and environment preservation. Kodifly can contribute to the Smart City development by providing SLAM-enabled LiDAR sensors and Video Analytics Solutions.
Individual problems require individual solutions. If you feel like your use case is different from what we have covered, don’t hesitate to let us know. We will be able to propose a tailor-made solution based on your goals and application needs, to eliminate your operational hurdles and increase process efficiency.
In this article, we try to brief you on LiDAR SLAM, its difference from GNSS and Visual SLAM, and how it can be used in different industries.
Not Finding what you want?
October 11, 2021
Kodifly Co-Founder awarded with The HKIE Innovation Award (2021)
Mr. Muhammad Saad Shahid Anwel is awarded as The HKIE Innovation Award – Grand Prize for his leadership in developing the "SNAPP" robotic fish under BREED, The University of Hong Kong.
July 20, 2022
How can AIoT be applied in different industries?
AIoT (artificial intelligence of things) is IoT with the association of AI which combines IoT and AI technology. It can help to implement insightful data analytics for people to make more informed decisions.
August 23, 2022
Technical Webinar on the use of AIoT and LiDAR in the Marine Industry
Last week our co-founder & CTO Saad Shahid and our software development intern Destiny were invited to speak at a technical webinar hosted by the Hong Kong Institute of Marine Technology. Saad talked about AI, IoT and LiDAR based applications and their trends in the Marine and related industries. Webinar was followed by a Q&A session, where participants inquired further on use of LiDAR in government projects, sensors limitations in the water environment, and directions for further development.
August 25, 2022
Use of AIoT & LiDAR in the marine industry
In this article, we explore innovative approaches to use AI, IoT, and LiDAR-based systems in the marine industry, particularly in the Shipping Operations, Repair and Maintenance, and Safety. When it comes to the adoption of innovative technology, the maritime industry has long been an embodiment of the phrase “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”. However, both the unexpected global logistics crisis that followed the COVID pandemic and the improvement, on both cost and performance, that innovative technology has had on modern service processes in other industries have shown that the maritime industry needs innovation, fast.
September 28, 2022
Video Analytics: Vehicle Queue Monitoring System by Kodfily
Take a look at how Kodifly can optimise roadside operations by providing a Vehicle Queue Monitoring System!
October 26, 2022
Kodifly X NVIDIA Inception Program
Kodifly joined NVIDIA Inception Program
October 31, 2022
Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022
Kodifly listed on the Hong Kong Fintech Week 2022 Virtual Exhibition
November 17, 2022
Kodifly Featured in InvestHK Quarterly Newsletter - Driving LiDAR Technology for a Safer and Smarter Hong Kong
Honourable Mention on InvestHK Client Profiles Boosts our Commitment to Innovate
October 07, 2022
Kodifly is on InvestHK portal!
We're happy to share that the company's profile is now listed on InvestHK, a platform that connects SMEs and startups with business growth and investment opportunities.
April 14, 2023
Kodifly Joins the Elite in Showcasing Smart City Solutions at InnoEX 2023
Driving the Future of Spatial Intelligence at Hong Kong's Premier Innovation and Technology Event
July 11, 2023
Kodifly Triumphs at HKTDC's Start-up Express 2023
Kodifly, a leading spatial intelligence company, proudly emerges as a winner at HKTDC's Start-up Express 2023. Discover how this achievement marks a milestone in our journey.