Army looks to ground-penetrating radar to find buried mines

U.S. Army leaders needed a sophisticated ground-penetrating radar to help them develop a soldier-operated system to detect buried land mines. They found at least a partial answer to this need from the Hand Held Standoff Mine-Detection System - also known as HSTAMIDS - from Coleman Research Corp. in Orlando, Fla.

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U.S. Army leaders needed a sophisticated ground-penetrating radar to help them develop a soldier-operated system to detect buried land mines. They found at least a partial answer to this need from the Hand Held Standoff Mine-Detection System - also known as HSTAMIDS - from Coleman Research Corp. in Orlando, Fla.

Coleman is one of two companies developing competing prototypes for HSTAMIDS, the Army`s future hand-held mine-detection system. The other is GDE Systems Inc. in San Diego.

Designers of Coleman`s HSTAMIDS entry seek to integrate three kinds of sensors - their ground-penetrating radar, a metal detector, and an infrared camera - into a hand-held mine-detection system. The cornerstone of Coleman`s entry is the company`s Drop-in Ground Penetration Radar Sensor, also known as DIGS.

Coleman engineers have been working on ground-penetrating radar and associated signal processing technology since 1979. They designed DIGS to fit into the heads of existing Army AN/PSS-12 hand-held metal detectors to augment the equipment`s magnetometer with the ground-penetrating radar.

The DIGS kit consists of a one-pound search head, 4.5-pound belt-mounted electronics unit, 4-pound battery pack, and transport case.

"The metal detector finds all the metal in the mines," explains William Steinway, division vice president of Coleman Research. "In a war there is a lot of shrapnel there too. But the ground-penetrating radar detects the plastic bodies of mines."

Target discrimination is one of the primary strengths of Coleman`s HSTAMIDS entry, Steinway says. The unit digitizes, processes, and blends the input signals from the ground-penetrating radar, metal detector, and the helmet-mounted infrared camera.

"We use high-speed processors after digitizing the signal," Steinway explains. "Our algorithm complexity is 10,000 times what we had in 1979."

Processing, he says, comes from a combination of Texas Instruments TMS320C40 digital signal processors and from Motorola PowerPC microprocessors. He would not give further details to protect company design secrets.

Other important enabling technologies center on the ground-penetrating radar`s transceiver antenna, Steinway says. "The antenna design has been significant. With digital computers we can do the kind of simulation and math to build it right."

The outputs from HSTAMIDS consist of three distinctly separate audible tones - one from each sensor - that flow to the operator`s headset, in addition to a composite image sent to an eyepiece attached to the operator`s helmet.

In the eyepiece is an image indicating where on the ground the operator can expect to find a buried land mine, as well as associated letters and symbology that help warn of mines in his path. - J.K.

For more information on Coleman`s HSTAMIDS entry - specifically on the DIGS ground-penetrating radar - contact William Steinway by phone at 407-352-3700, by fax at 407-244-5752, by post at 201 South Orange Ave., Suite 1300, Orlando, Fla. 32801, by e-mail at Bill-Steinway@mail.crc.com, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.crc.com/.

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The Drop-in Ground Penetration Radar Sensor (DIGS) from Coleman Research Corp., is designed to fit existing U.S. Army mine-detection equipment to augment metal detectors. Coleman designers also are adding an infrared camera to advanced mine-hunting equipment.

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