Time of flight (ToF) LIDAR is a highly accurate distance mapping and 3D imaging technology. Time of Flight sensors emit a very short pulse of infrared light. The light pulse is reflected from objects in the scene. The ToF sensor precisely and accurately measures the pulse transit time. Since the speed of light is a constant, the measured transit time easily converted to a depth value.
The two most popular ToF sensor LIDAR architectures are global shutter flash and rolling shutter scanning. Global shutter flash LIDAR illuminates the entire field of regard with a single pulse of infrared illumination. The flash LIDAR detector consists of a proprietary focal plane array (FPA) in which each pixel independently measures the time of flight. The scanning LIDAR illuminates a narrow field of view with a narrow pulse of illumination and measures the time of flight. Subsequently, the laser and sensor must be physically scanned through the entire field of regard to capture the scene depth values. Global shutter flash LIDAR are preferred for real time 3D mapping / imaging applications due to the simplicity, efficiency, and speed advantages.