This innovation is an airborne area security search system and method that features a two-phase search from an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) using a novel combination of sensor technologies not previously employed. Its key strength is a wide-area search at high resolution for reliable identification of objects. It provides a video camera with radio feedback to the operator, who looks for threat objects of interest.

Phase I search is wide-area with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) to locate objects of potential interest for subsequent identification. Phase II search is a low-altitude flyover with a fixed or rotary wing UAV having gimbals with two independent sensors; MMW (millimeter wave) ranging radar, probably at 94 GHz; and an EO/IR (electro-optical/infrared) polarizer camera. The novelty is that outputs of the two sensors are fused with algorithms (yet to be created) for high-resolution, accurate object identification from 3D physical dimensions of the object.

Use of a dual-mode sensor with flyover in the second phase examines an object for 3D measurement, allowing identification by comparison to a library of signatures of known objects. Use of a rotary wing UAV allows greater diversity of angle of incidence of object interrogation. If the object is moving, the UAV should track the object to allow the agency to respond.

This work was done by Robert Knox of Epsilon Lambda Electronic Corporation for Kennedy Space Center. KSC-13391

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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