Army CECOM looks to improve unmanned helicopter with ground-penetrating radar payload

U.S. Army electronics experts seek to improve the capabilities of a system that detects and maps landmines using a ground-penetrating radar sensor installed aboard a small remotely controlled helicopter.

Apr 1st, 2002

by John Keller

FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. — U.S. Army electronics experts seek to improve the capabilities of a system that detects and maps landmines using a ground-penetrating radar sensor installed aboard a small remotely controlled helicopter.

Officials of the Army Communication-Electronics Command (CECOM), Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) at Fort Monmouth, N.J., want to upgrade the existing Landmine Detection and Survey System by giving it faster processors, more advanced software, and an improved unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The existing Landmine Detection and Survey System resulted from a collaboration of Schiebel Technology Inc. of Warrenton, Va., and Mirage Systems Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif. Schiebel builds the system's Camcopter unmanned helicopter and Mirage builds the ground-penetrating radar and differential global positioning system (GPS).

Other elements of the Landmine Detection and Survey System include:

  • compact radar electronics system that employs a gated frequency-modulated continuous waveform with software flexibility to control the parameters of the radar's waveform;
  • carrier-phase differential GPS system integrated with inertial sensors that provide centimeter-level geo-referenced positional accuracy and platform orientation information quickly enough for precise synthetic aperture radar (SAR) focusing;
  • SAR processing algorithms that form focused and motion-compensated 3D SAR imagery;
  • signal-processing algorithms that incorporate specific target features within the SAR imaging process to provide target characterization; and
  • signal processing algorithms that combine differential GPS data and inertial data to provide positional and orientation information quickly and accurately.

CECOM officials are proposing a non-competitive acquisition with Schiebel and Mirage Systems to upgrade the Landmine Detection and Survey System in a project to:

  • design and build a processing suite to enable faster and improved image processing;
  • collect and process ground-penetrating radar data gathered at various test sites using the existing Camcopter/Mirage Airborne ground-penetrating radar system;
  • modify the existing prototype Mirage Airborne ground-penetrating radar to better adapt it for use with the Camcopter UAV, with consideration for hardware and vibration issues identified during previous testing;
  • improve the existing airborne ground-penetrating radar-control software to correct errors and data transfer delays encountered during previous testing; and
  • modify the existing Camcopter UAV mission control program to enhance its precise mission-planning capabilities.

Army officials say they are limiting this procurement to Schiebel Technology and Mirage Systems because they know of no other sources for this landmine-detection system.

For more information contact Schiebel Technology by phone at 540-351-1731, by fax at 540-351-1736, by post at Vint Hill Farms Station, 7081 Lineweaver Road, P.O. Box 861527, Warrenton, Va. 20187-1527, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.schiebel.com.

Also contact Mirage Systems by phone at 408-524-7900, by fax at 408-734-8845, by post at 1050 East Duane Ave., Suite E, Sunnyvale, Calif. 94086, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.miragegpr.com.

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