Lidar is an acronym for light detection and ranging, and, as its name implies, is a remote sensing method using laser light to measure the distance to an object. A flash or scanning lidar provides a three-dimensional point cloud of the surroundings.

Until now, lidar navigation systems relied on a first-generation pulsed technology called time-of-flight (ToF) lidar. Pulsed ToF lidar emits powerful pulses of light to detect obstacles in its path by measuring the round-trip time of photons that bounce back from objects.