"The point here is that we're generating enough of a point cloud where we can really be autonomously aware of the environment," Woods said.
What is a point cloud? The easiest way to think of it is as a form of pin art, the 1980's gadget, as the Velodyne video to the right shows. The LIDAR provides position and velocity information. But Velodyne is also developing the capability to look at the relative intensity of the reflected light, which will allow the laser to "read" objects. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2402516,00.asp