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Ultra Wideband Radar for Micro Air Vehicle Application

B.Govardhan Reddy
IV-II, E.C.E, SVIST College, Madanapalle.

A fixed-wing aircraft, usually called an aero
The development and widespread use of plane or airplane, is a heavier-than-air aircraft capable
micro air vehicles (MAVs) in the battlefield of flight whose lift is generated not by wing motion
environment has been effectively constrained by the relative to the aircraft, but by forward motion through
limitations in the MAV sensor suite. the air.
Furthermore, the extreme size, weight and Fixed-wing MAVs can currently achieve
power constraints imposed on the on-board higher efficiency and longer flight times, so are well
electronics for such platforms have made it very suited to tasks that require extended loitering times,
difficult to utilize more conventional and but are generally unable to enter buildings, as they
commercially available technologies for this cannot hover or make the tight turns required. The
application. below figure shows the Fixed wing MAV.
This paper discusses the development of an
extremely small, micro-power, radar system utilizing
ultra wideband (UWB) technology which addresses
MAV mission requirements for collision avoidance
and precision altimetry in support of autonomous
vehicle operation.

The term micro air vehicle (MAV) or micro
aerial vehicle refers to a new type of remotely
controlled aircraft. The target dimension for MAVs A helicopter is an aircraft that is lifted and
today is approximately 15 centimeters (six inches) and propelled by one or more horizontal rotors, each rotor
development of insect-size aircraft is reportedly consisting of two or more rotor blades.
expected in the near future. Rotary-wings allow hovering and movement
The Defense Advanced Research Projects in any direction, at the cost of shorter flight time.
Agency (DARPA) is the U.S. agency at the forefront The below figure shows the Helicopter
of MAV development. Dr. Jim McMichael was the
first DARPA Program Manager for MAV

Types of MAV:
Three types of MAV’s are under
• Fixed wing models,
• Rotary wing models and
• Ornithopter (flapping wing) models. An ornithopter (from Greek ornithos "bird"
and pteron "wing") is an aircraft that flies by flapping
Each type has different advantages and its wings. Designers seek to imitate the flapping-wing
disadvantages, different scenarios may call for flight of birds, bats, and insects.
different types of MAV.
Flapping wings offer the most potential for in this emerging field by way of examples of recently
miniaturization and maneuverability, but are currently fielded UWB hardware and equipment.
far inferior to fix and rotary wing MAVs. The below Multispectral Solutions, Inc. (MSSI) is a
figure shows Flapping wing MAV. pioneer and an established industry leader in the
development of ultra wideband systems and has been
actively involved in UWB hardware and system
development since 1984.



The origin of ultra wideband technology

stems from work in time-domain electro-magnetic
begun in 1962 to fully describe the transient behavior
Its requirements: of a certain class of microwave networks through their
characteristic impulse response (Ross (1963, 1966)).
Response time limitation in human piloting The concept was quite simple. Instead of
of such vehicles points out the need for fully characterizing a linear, time-invariant (LTI) system by
autonomous flight. Collision avoidance sensor the conventional means of a swept frequency response
capable of detecting obstructions and hazards to flight (i.e., amplitude and phase measurements versus
is an absolute requirement. frequency), an LTI system could alternatively be fully
A fine resolution, short-range altimeter characterized by its impulse response h(t).
capability is needed to aid these, often fragile, micro In particular, the output y(t) of such a system
vehicles in takeoff and landing, and to assist in to any arbitrary input x(t) could be uniquely
hovering for surveillance applications. The envisioned determined by the well-known convolution integral
operating environments for MAVs are quite complex
and diverse, ranging from urban population centers to
extreme wilderness environments.
Thus onboard sensor suites must be capable However, it was not until the advent of the
of maintaining a high level of performance in a wide sampling oscilloscope (Hewlett-Packard c. 1962) and
array of scenarios and against very diverse targets. the development of techniques for sub-nanosecond
Candidate sensors must be extremely lightweight, (baseband) pulse generation
occupy minimal space and must also have very low
power consumption. Uses of UWB technology:
Additionally, the physical constraints of the
MAV present significant challenges to the integration An extremely short duration pulse not only
of sensor packages onboard the vehicle. provides for fine radar range resolution (essential for
Ultra wideband (UWB) radar has emerged as meeting demanding autonomous flight and precision
a leading technology for MAV applications due to landing requirements); but also results in a low duty
these technical considerations. cycle waveform which can minimize the prime power
demands on the vehicle.
UWB: For example, 10 kpps UWB radar operating
with a 500 MHz instantaneous bandwidth has a pulse
INTRODUCTION: duty cycle of roughly 2x10-5. Thus, by time-power
gating , the average power drain can be many orders
Ultra wideband (UWB) technology, well- of magnitude smaller than the peak power
known for its use in ground penetrating radar, has also requirement for the radar.
been of considerable interest in communications and Furthermore, low duty cycle emissions also
radar applications demanding low probability of result in low average power densities (Watts per unit
intercept and detection (LPI/D), multipath immunity, Hertz) which are essential to minimize interference to
high data throughput, precision ranging and other onboard electronics – most importantly, the
localization. vehicle's flight control system and associated
After a very short introduction to the history telemetry link.
and theory of ultra wideband technology, we describe Of course for military operations, a low
the current state-of-the-art (within the United States) power spectral density is of importance in making the
vehicle less vulnerable to intercept and subsequent
electronic countermeasures (ECM) attack. Another streams, one of which is delayed by 2 nanoseconds
important feature of short pulse technology is the from the other. This is accomplished using a
ability to establish precision range gates at user precision, analog delay line which can be
selectable distances. implemented in micro strip. Both pulse trains are then
These range gates allow the vehicle radar to clocked into the PLD, and a 2-bit word results which
eliminate detections outside of selected areas of contains information about events occurring on a 2
interest and dramatically reduces the number of ns, rather than 4 ns, epoch interval.
nuisance and false alarms. This is of particular Note that, in general, the radar resolution
advantage in high clutter environments such as urban can be further improved by adding additional, finer
centers or heavily forested terrain. time resolution, delay lines. The radar operates as a
Additionally, since UWB-based radars presence sensor, determining the distance of an
function as presence sensors, they do not depend object by simply measuring the roundtrip delay of the
upon relative motion or Doppler information. Thus, transmitted pulse. Sensitivity time control (STC) for
they are suitable for a wide variety of operational MAVCAS is provided through digital control of both
scenarios including slow moving or hovering receiver RF gain (RF AGC) and detector bias.
platforms. With its inherently large bandwidth RS-232 and RS-485 interfaces are provided
waveform, UWB radar also provides an enhanced for both user control and data output. MAVCAS
detection probability against complex and low radar currently utilizes a discrete RF design; however, it is
cross section (RCS) targets such as suspended wires readily adaptable to an RF integrated circuit (RFIC)
and utility poles. implementation.
Finally, since UWB radar designs are nearly This, combined with the replacement of the
all digital, with minimal RF and microwave discrete PLD and microcontroller with a custom
electronics, low cost microminiaturization is possible application specific integrated circuit (ASIC), are the
through the use of custom application specific next steps necessary to fully enable commercial
integrated circuit (ASIC) and radio frequency markets and to meet the final size and cost
integrated circuit (RFIC) technologies. requirements for DARPA’s MAV program.
In addition, the commonality of signal
generation and processing architectures for both radar Block diagram of MAVCAS:
and communications permits the design of a multi-
function unit that can encompass altimetry and
obstacle avoidance as well as data link functions.

Working of MAVCAS:
MAVCAS system operation proceeds as
follows. A programmable logic device (PLD)
generates a transmit strobe to the low level impulse
source when initiated by a trigger sequence from the
system microcontroller. In the low power (25 mW)
mode, the transmit pulse is directly produced by the
output of a spectrally filtered, time-gated C-band
oscillator; while, in the high power mode, an
additional time-gated C-band power amplifier boosts
the signal to the 0.8 W peak power output level.
Once the transmitter is triggered, the PLD Frequency domain response of MAVCAS:
immediately begins sampling conditioned, baseband
(detected) pulses from the receiver tunnel diode The frequency domain response of
detector circuitry. The tunnel diode is preceded by MAVCAS shows that frequency markers are placed
suitable bandpass filtering and an AGC-controlled, near the edges of the FCC Part 15.209 non-restricted
low noise amplifier (LNA) which is used to set the Band at 5.46 to 7.25 GHz, illustrating that the radar
system noise temperature. response falls entirely within this non-restricted band.
However, as the PLD clock frequency (in
this case, 250 MHz) is insufficient to achieve a 2
nanosecond (1 foot roundtrip) resolution; the detector
output is further subdivided into two separate
Potential military use is one of the driving
factors, although MAVs are also being used
Time domain response of MAVCAS: commercially and in scientific, police and mapping
The time domain response of MAVCAS Another promising area is remote
shows that the radar is non-coherent (pulse-to-pulse); observation of hazardous environments which are
and that the pulse envelope is typical of a bandpass inaccessible to ground vehicles.
filter impulse response. The military application for MAVs is
primarily in the area of reconnaissance, and the
projection is for tiny "spy planes" that a soldier can
carry in a backpack, launch and use to scout ahead for
enemy troops.
Aerial robots can aid military personnel or
first responders in finding victims, safe passage ways,
by exploring or securing an area, in search of bombs,
chemical or biological agents.
Aerial robots can potentially aid in saving
the lives of the rescuers and civilians in a terrorist
attack or a disaster situation.
Applications have also been proposed which
include use in search and rescue; remote nuclear,
biological and chemical (NBC) sensing; monitoring
of traffic patterns and airborne pollutants, etc.

MICRO AIR VEHICLES provides soldiers
a birds-eye view. The use of the MAV provided the
platoon with better situational awareness, and led to
C-Band path array for MAVCAS: less confusion during tactical operations.
Fine range resolution, high power
MAVCAS operates with a tight, spectrally- efficiency, low probability of interference and low
confined waveform within the C-band region 6.10 to probability of detection, make UWB an excellent
6.60 GHz. Radiated emissions tests have been candidate technology for micro and organic air
performed on the radar by an FCC-certified laboratory vehicle collision avoidance and altimetry
in the Washington, DC area. applications.