There’s a photo being shared all over Facebook right now of an interesting new style of speed trap. This new detector is actually embedded into guardrails. – Could lidar really have the potential to phase out conventional radar detection?
It sounds far-fetched, but it makes perfect sense. This style of speed detection requires less staffing for operation, and will free-up police officers to allow them more time and accessibility for other issues/accidents/calls.
It is not yet known if these radar detection systems are currently in operation, or where they are located. However, it is known that the devices will be utilizing automated LIDAR (light detection and ranging) to read speeds, and enforce limits. This means that these devices will be using lasers as opposed to the usual radio waves, making them more efficient in congested traffic, and less detectible than radar – but will have a shorter range.
The lidar detector will send out a pulse and start a timer. The pulse will hit the target, return, and then the timer will stop. The total distance traveled over time will then be calculated to find the speed of the target object.
Although the process sounds very similar to old-fashioned radar, there are certainly some notable differences. The most significant being the size and shape of the transmitted pulse. Radar shoots short, high-intensity/high frequency bursts of cone-shaped radio waves. Those cone-shaped waves will pick up multiple targets in it’s path which causes officers to take the time to match targets to their speeds – causing effective use in congested areas to be rather difficult.
Lidar is much more efficient in these types of situations due to their ability to pin-point their target. The lidar beam is only 18 inches wide at a distance of 500 feet – much smaller than radar which ranges 150 feet at the same distance. Another perk of using lidar is that it cannot actually be detected until the target’s speed has already been read.
These traffic-observing devices provide automatic traffic control. Not only can it detect speed, but it can detect drivers running red lights, and those driving the wrong way. Using photographic evidence taken by the devices, fines, citations, and tickets can be issued through a streamlined process. The Lidar can also be used continuously (around the clock) unlike conventional surveillance systems which have to stop for film changes.