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What is a LIDAR Detector?

By M. Rosario
Updated May 16, 2024
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A LIDAR detector is a device that detects infrared signals coming from a LIDAR gun. It is commonly used by motorists to tell when a LIDAR speed radar gun is active in the vicinity. This lets the speeding motorists avoid police officers and speed traps.

Ever since the government used radar to impose speed limits, some motorists have stubbornly tried to defeat the technology. With the development of radar speed detector technology, ways to circumvent detection naturally developed as well. The LIDAR speed radar is popular with law enforcement agencies around the world. As such, people have tried different ways of beating it.

LIDAR functions similarly to conventional radar technology. Only, instead of sound, it emits concentrated infrared light that bounces off the object it hits. The LIDAR then calculates how long it took for the infrared signal to travel back to the device. This, however, only measures the vehicle’s distance. To figure out how fast the vehicle is going, the LIDAR sends out multiple pulses of light. It then measures how fast the vehicle has changed distances to determine its speed.

The LIDAR detector works by exploiting how LIDAR radar guns detect speeding vehicles. A modified radio receiver senses the infrared signals when a LIDAR speed gun is pointed at or near the vehicle. It then alerts the driver by sending out a warning, typically in the form of a beeping sound.

Radar detectors are gadgets that use laser jammers in combination with LIDAR detectors. A LIDAR detector is mostly a passive device, while the laser jammer needs to be activated to work. When the LIDAR detector senses a LIDAR gun, the user switches on the laser jammer to scramble its signals.

There are several disadvantages to LIDAR detectors. The main drawback is the LIDAR gun itself. Detectors can only find a laser radar when it sends out infrared signals. A non-functioning LIDAR gun is, in effect, invisible to detectors. Police enforcers take advantage of this by using instant-on LIDAR guns that can be operated as soon as a car passes.

Other disadvantages include range and signals from other sources. Detectors function only up to a certain range. By using long-range radar, police officers can catch speeders before their detectors can alert them. Some devices, such as security cameras, also use infrared light. These devices can trigger the detector’s alarm when infrared light hits it.

It should be noted that the use or mere possession of LIDAR detectors and laser jammers is illegal in some jurisdictions. Commercial vehicles are typically prohibited from installing these devices. Any form of LIDAR detector and laser jammer are generally banned in and around military bases as well.

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