This paper describes the development of a Coherent Laser Radar utilizing a Frequency Modulated (FM) GaAlAs laser diode as an optical source. Both metrology (low speed, high accuracy) and vision (high speed, low accuracy) systems have been developed. Characteristics of presently available laser diodes important to this application are discussed, including coherence length, modal and tuning properties, and the effect of back reflected light on the laser diode's performance. Techniques to overcome current laser limitations are presented. These include an electronic linewidth narrowing scheme to enhance the coherence length of the source laser and thus the ultimate range of the radar, and the use of tuning linearization electronics. Finally, the impact of future laser diode technology, such as electronically tunable lasers, is discussed with respect to this application.