Lidar to Play Critical Role in Infrastructure Projects

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (“BIL”) changed the landscape for project funding in the United States, and created more opportunities for lidar deployment to enhance safety on U.S. roadways and at intersections while advancing other important transportation objectives. In addition to directing the Department of Transportation (“Department”) to issue multiple safety-critical rulemakings, the BIL created large grant programs for infrastructure improvement and technological deployments. In February, the Department began announcing funding awards for BIL programs that can expand lidar deployment. Lidar technology will be involved in a number of different capacities, detailed below:

  • Airport Terminal Program: On February 27, 2023 the Department announced awards totaling nearly $1 billion for airport terminal improvements. Lidar technology is currently deployed in airports across the world to increase security and efficiency. Lidar sensors offer airport operators greater visibility and range compared to cameras to monitor crowds and outdoors areas under a broad range of weather conditions. In addition, lidar sensors are being deployed to help make baggage and cargo movement at airports more efficient, benefiting travelers, businesses, and consumers. This year, the Lidar Coalition is working to open funding eligibility for expanded lidar deployment in airports through the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization.
  • University Transportation Centers: On February 21, 2023, the Department announced $435 million in awards to University Transportation Centers (“UTC”). UTCs conduct research on a wide variety of topics including autonomous vehicles, driver assistance, and drones, among others.  Sensor and perception systems, including lidar, will play a large role in UTC research, including those focused on safety, mobility, and infrastructure.
  • Safe Streets and Roads for All: On February 1, 2023, the Department announced $800 million in awards for the Safe Streets and Roads for All (“SS4A”) grant program. The SS4A program funds “safe systems” infrastructure improvements, including the deployment of innovative technologies.  Lidar deployments are eligible for funding through SS4A as part of a safe system plan.

In the next few months, lidar technology will play an even greater role in Department actions. The Department is expected to issue guidance on a new pilot program for intersection safety technology, award grants for innovative technology, and release proposed regulations for pedestrian automatic emergency braking. The Lidar Coalition will continue to educate federal policymakers on the benefits of lidar and serve as the voice of industry advocacy efforts.

The Lidar Coalition represents 10 of the leading companies in the lidar ecosystem including hardware manufacturers, tier 1 suppliers, software providers, and semiconductor developers.