Laser‐based sensors have been used extensively in robotics and aerospace applications for a variety of tasks, including navigation, collision avoidance, and mapping. While laser‐based mapping is the focus of a later chapter, this chapter discusses the use of laser‐based sensors in estimating the platform pose (i.e. position and orientation), and in some cases, the change of pose over time. Pose estimation entails the calculation of the platform’s 6 degrees of freedom (6DOF): the three‐dimensional (3D) position (x, y, z) in a local or global frame, and the three‐dimensional orientation, which includes attitude (roll: ϕ, pitch θ) and yaw (ψ). Laser‐based pose estimation is often considered a good alternative in GNSS‐challenged environments, such as urban, wooded, and indoor environments, to add integrity, improve availability, and guarantee continuity of service of the platform’s navigation solution.
The chapter starts with a short overview of laser ranging technologies that can be used for navigation purposes, including various types of scanners and imagers. We define a laser‐based technology taxonomy based on observables, and address two approaches to laser‐based navigation in the two following sections.