Optical Engineering • Open AccessReview of ladar: a historic, yet emerging, sensor technology with rich phenomenology
Ladar is becoming more prominent due to the maturation of its component technologies, especially lasers. There are many forms of ladar. There is simple two-dimensional (2-D) ladar, similar to a passive electro-optic sensor, but with controlled illumination and the ability to see at night even at short wavelengths. There is three-dimensional (3-D) ladar, with angle/angle/range information. 3-D images are very powerful because shape is an invariant. 3-D images can be easily rotated to various perspectives. You can add gray scale or color, just like passive, or 2-D ladar, imaging. You can add precise velocity measurement, including vibrations. Ladar generates orders of magnitude higher frequency change then microwave radar for velocity measurement, because frequency change is proportional to one over the wavelength. Orders of magnitude higher frequency change means you can measure a given velocity orders of magnitude quicker, in many cases making an accurate measurement possible. Polarization can be used. With an active sensor you control both the illumination and the reception, so you can pattern the illumination. Also, because ladar can use narrow band illumination it is easier to easier to coherently combine sub-aperture images to obtain the higher resolution of an array.