The ability to see through walls is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to new radar technology developed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.

The researchers’ device is an unassuming array of antenna arranged into two rows — eight receiving elements on top, 13 transmitting ones below — and some computing equipment, all mounted onto a movable cart. But it has powerful implications for military operations, especially “urban combat situations,” says Gregory Charvat, technical staff at Lincoln Lab and the leader of the project.

In a recent demonstration, Charvat and his colleagues, Lincoln Lab assistant staff John Peabody and former Lincoln Lab technical staff Tyler Ralston, showed how the radar was able to image two humans moving behind solid concrete and cinder-block walls, as well as a human swinging a metal pole in free space.

The Lincoln Lab team’s system may be used at a range of up to 60 feet away from the wall. With further refinement, the radar could be used domestically by emergency-response teams and others.

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