Radar sensor for obstacle detection

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What problem does your design idea solve?

Rotary wing platforms are flexible and powerful solution for a range of missions such as medical evacuation, rescue, courier and transportation. However, these aircraft are in danger to collide with terrain features, obstacles and other flying aircraft, especially in bad visibility conditions.

Unmanned rotary wing platforms are the next big thing in delivery service. Indeed, there are yet legal and regulatory difficulties, but the future is out there. However, autonomous navigation and operations is yet a big challenge.

What are the potential benefits?

Imagine a world where unmanned aerial vehicles delivering goods and people in urban areas. This is obviously the missing 3rd level of transportation after ways and subways. This will not happen tomorrow because of several key technological issues, where the three major ones are: autonomous- or remote-control system, sensors and energy source (see http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/ for more details). But, the advantages are self-evident in terms of traffic capacity, promptness and investment in infrastructure and the maintenance thereof.

How is your idea novel or an improvement on what is currently available in the marketplace?

In the context of obstacle detection sensors for navigation systems, radio-frequency sensors (radars) offer several advantages over imaging sensors like: distance measure and immunity to visibility conditions. Unfortunately, radars suffer from noise problems (clutter) and from challenging target recognition. ROD has developed a breakthrough radar technology to solve these two issues, by innovatively exploiting the polarization of radio-frequency wave, in a way that simplifies the radar and significantly improves its reliability.

Where would this idea be applied?

Reliable, light-weight, low-power and cost effective obstacle detection sensors will serve for navigation and safety in helicopters in the near future, and in almost every unmanned rotary wing platform in a few years ahead.

What is the market potential?

Presently, there are about 60,000 helicopters over the world with 1700 new annually. Changhe Aircraft Industry Corporation, the largest helicopter manufacturer in China, and the U.S. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, the world's largest helicopter manufacturer, have made a survey shown that China itself has a market demand of nearly 10,000 civil helicopters by the end of 2020.

The market of unmanned rotary wing platforms does not yet exist, but is already estimated by millions of units once the abovementioned challenges would be met.

How does your design work?

The radar transmits circularly- and rotating linearly-polarized waves, and receives the reflected waves using dedicated dual polarized antennas. The polarization of the received waves is compared with the transmitted waves and the outcome serves to filter out the clutter and to recognize the obstacles.

How would the production cost compare with products already in the marketplace?

The polarization-based obstacle detection radar technology allows using commercial off-the-shelf components that were originally developed for the communication industry. The production cost of the current model is only a few thousand dollars, and is expected to decrease to a few hundreds in mass production.


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  • Name:
    Alon Slapak
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Haim Niv, ROD
    Prof. John Roulston, ROD
  • Software used for this entry:
    Matlab, C.
  • Patent status: