Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Status report on next generation LADAR for driving unmanned ground vehicles



Maris Juberts, Tony Barbera


The U.S. Department of Defense has initiated plans for the deployment of autonomous robotic vehicles in various tactical military operations starting in about seven years. Most of these missions will require the vehicles to drive autonomously over open terrain and on roads which may contain traffic, obstacles, military personnel as well as pedestrians. Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) must therefore be able to detect, recognize and track objects and terrain features in very cluttered environments. Although several LADAR sensors exist today which have successfully been implemented and demonstrated to provide somewhat reliable obstacle detection and can be used for path planning and selection, they tend to be limited in performance, are effected by obscurants, and are quite large and expensive. In addition, even though considerable effort and funding has been provided by the DOD R&D community, nearly all of the development has been for target detection (ATR) and tracking from various flying platforms. Participation in the Army and DARPA sponsored UGV programs has helped NIST to identify requirement specifications for LADAR to be used for on and off-road autonomous driving. This paper describes the expected requirements for a next generation LADAR for driving UGVs and presents an overview of proposed LADAR design concepts and a status report on current developments in scannerless Focal Plane Array (FPA) LADAR and advanced scanning LADAR which may be able to achieve the stated requirements. Examples of real-time range images taken with existing LADAR prototypes will be presented.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of SPIE Optics East 2004
Conference Dates
October 25-28, 2004
Conference Location
Philadelphia, PA
Conference Title
Industrial Optical Robotic Systems Technology & Applications


field-of-view (FOV), Focal Plane Array (FPA) laser radar, LADAR/LIDAR Sensors, Mobiltiy, on & off autonomous driving, Unmanned Systems


Juberts, M. and Barbera, T. (2004), Status report on next generation LADAR for driving unmanned ground vehicles, Proceedings of SPIE Optics East 2004, Philadelphia, PA, [online], (Accessed July 22, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created October 28, 2004, Updated February 17, 2017