Comparing Sensing Technologies: Lidar Laser, Radar, and Sonar for Modern Applications

In recent years, various technological advancements have become a crucial part in evolving the industrial and commercial landscape. Remote sensing technologies like Lidar laser, radar, and sonar are examples of such revolutionary advancement that is changing our lives in various ways. Starting from medicals to battlefields, these object detection technologies are now every where. You might have also heard about these three before. But do you know what these technologies are and how lidar, sonar, and radar differ from each other? 

In this blog, we will understand about this trio and differentiate them on the basis of various factors. So let’s get started. 

Comprehensive Differentiation between Lidar Laser, Radar, and Sonar

Understanding Lidar Laser 

Lidar Laser is one of the advanced technologies in the 21st century that stands for Light Detection and Ranging. It is a remote sensing technology that uses light spectra of higher bandwidths for creating 3D images of earth surfaces that are difficult to reach or unexplored till time. That’s why scientists use Lidar Laser technology for professional mapping of both natural and human-made environments.

How it works! 

Lidar Laser works on the principle of reflection of light waves. The machine mainly consists of a transmitter, a scanner, and a specialized receiver. The transmitter emits light waves having a wavelength nearly infrared. These waves hit the object and rebound. The sensor scans these waves to create a 3D image which is further propagated to the receiver for an enhanced view of the overall map. 

Applications of Lidar Laser

Autonomous vehicles: Lidar Laser technology is effectively used by next-gen automated vehicles. These vehicles have remote sensing ability and can switch to various modes by sensing traffic and hindrances ahead. 

OCT: OCT or optical coherence tomography is a unique medical diagnostic test based on Lidar Laser technology to provide enhanced reports on internal health conditions for accurate diagnosis. 

Military: Armies utilize Lidar Laser technology to analyze battle terrains and lands during rescue operations for a clearer view. 

Pros of Lidar Laser 

Cons of Lidar Laser

Understanding Radar 

Radar stands for radio detection and ranging. As the name implies radar technology utilizes radio waves to measure the distance and velocity of far objects. The radar technology was invented in the 90s and underwent rapid development, particularly from 1930 to 1940 for military implements. 

How radar works 

Radar works on the principle of the Doppler effect and electromagnetic energy for the detection of objects. It consists of major functioning parts known as the Antenna and the Receiver. The antenna radiates a narrow bandwidth of energy that hits the object. The time it takes for the beam to return to the receiver determines how far away the object is. Similarly, the phase change in the light wave after hitting the object gives information about the velocity of the object.

Benefits of Radar

Military surveillance: Radar from their advent is extensively used in the military to keep an eye on the intervention of enemies on the ground, sky, and sea. In recent years, Radar technology is also been used in the army for the controlled and accurate use of missiles.

Detecting objects in space: During space exploration, radar plays a major role in detecting objects coming in the way. This not only ensures the spacecraft’s stability in space but also ensures safe landing. 

Traffic control: Several countries made a unique use of radars to control traffic in high-traffic areas. Radar enables systematic control of traffic by analyzing vehicles’ speed and distances. That’s why radar has played an important role in law enforcement.

Pros of Radar

Cons of Radar

Understanding Sonar 

Sonar is the acronym for sound navigation and ranging which is basically used for underwater detection of objects and animals. Sound Waves travel fast and can give accurate results under the sea in comparison to radar waves. Therefore, Sonar is critically used to determine underwater activities. However, the working principle of sonar is nearly the same as radar 

How does Sonar work? 

Just like radar has an antenna for transmitting light waves, similarly, sonar has a transducer to emit sound waves. Soundwaves travel through the medium and bounce back when hit by an object. The receiver on the other hand receives the reflected sound wave. The time consumed in the whole process helps to address the exact location of the object. 

Types of sonar 

Passive sonar: Passive sonar systems can only receive sound waves from objects but can’t transmit waves. It is beneficial for naval warships and submarines who need to disguise themselves from the attack of enemies. 

Active Sonar: Active sonar systems can both transmit and receive sound waves under the water. These kinds of sonars are particularly used for sea exploration. 

Applications of Sonar 

Sonar technology is widely used across the globe to benefit human civilization. Let’s have a look at some of the potential uses of sonar.

Pros of Sonar

Cons of Sonar

Lidar vs Radar vs Sonar 

Be it LiDAR, radar, or sonar, all three technologies help in remote sensing of object detection. However, all three have unique working methods and applications for different scenarios. Let’s differentiate all three according to the above discussion: 

Working Principle

Lidar Laser, sonar, and radar have similar working modes but different principles. For example, lidar works on the principle of reflection of light, radar follows the Doppler effect, and Sonar obeys the principle of the echo effect. 


The accuracy and functionality of these remote sensing technologies vary according to application areas such as land, space, and water. Lidar Laser is a prominent choice for land mapping in comparison to radar. Similarly, Sonar is the preferable choice for underwater detection. 


In conclusion we can say all the three technologies are magnificent and serve us with great benefits. But the selection of best depends upon various factors such as area of application, required results, suitability of work modes. So before considering any of these technologies must consult to a expert for optimized results.