Document Type


Publication Date



Statler College of Engineering and Mining Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


3D sensors such as LIDARs, stereo cameras, time-of-flight cameras, and the Microsoft Kinect are increasingly found in a wide range of applications, including gaming, personal robotics, and space exploration. In some cases, pattern recognition algorithms for processing depth images can be tested using actual sensors observing real-world objects. In many situations, however, it is common to test new algorithms using computer-generated synthetic images, as such simulations tend to be faster, more flexible, and less expensive than hardware tests. Computer generation of images is especially useful for Monte Carlo-type analyses or for situations where obtaining real sensor data for preliminary testing is difficult (e.g., space applications). We present GLIDAR, an OpenGL and GL Shading Language-based sensor simulator, capable of imaging nearly any static three-dimensional model. GLIDAR allows basic object manipulations, or may be connected to a physics simulator for more advanced behaviors. It permits publishing to a TCP socket at high frame-rates or can save to PCD (point cloud data) files. The software is written in C++, and is released under the open source BSD license

Source Citation

Woods, J., & Christian, J. (2016). Glidar: An OpenGL-based, Real-Time, and Open Source 3D Sensor Simulator for Testing Computer Vision Algorithms. Journal of Imaging, 2(1), 5.


c 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution (CC-BY) license (

Included in

Engineering Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.