A standalone, handheld, through-wall radar unit is under development to provide three-dimensional feedback on the location and movement of people inside buildings. Applications include military and emergency service such as hostage situations and search and rescue. The unit, which can be held against a wall or mounted on a tripod located up to 2 meters away, transmits low-frequency ultrawideband (UWB) radar pulses that pass through building materials over 40 cm thick and detects activity over a range of up to 15 meters.
The second-generation system will eliminate the previous need for an external controller and man-machine interface by integrating a VideoCore processor. Located on the unit’s intelligent radar core (the single-board radar unit at the heart of the system), the processor combines digital signal processing capabilities with a versatile display driver. Consequently, results can be presented on the built-in, 6.4-inch color display within 2 seconds or transmitted to a remote laptop. The onboard signal processing also allows customization to target applications through programmable parameters including range, scan rate, and target permanence.
Another feature of the new intelligent radar core is an array of antennas that gives it a large field of vision (at least 140 degrees in both vertical and horizontal planes) combined with three-dimensional object location and motion tracking. Operators can use this capability to decide whether the object detected is human or animal, and its position (i.e., standing, sitting, or lying down).
The radar core is now at an advanced stage of development, and a tough, weatherproof case is being designed to house the system. Slated for commercial release in early 2006, the finished product is expected to weigh around 3 kg (7 lbs), including a lithium-ion battery pack that will store enough power for roughly 2 hours of continuous use. The housing will have a slim-line shape with handgrips for portability by soldiers or emergency service workers.