Human subjects are unsuitable for objective performance testing of victim detection radar because their heart and respiration rates are not controllable or repeatable. There are limitations on human targets from a safety standpoint as well. It is difficult to relate the ground truth to the measured data for a human target without needing additional equipment that must be attached to the human subject. Artificial targets using pneumatics do not provide sufficient fidelity of the radar return for development of identification algorithms.

A portable version of a laboratory test target consisting of a loudspeaker driven by a microcontroller serves as an arbitrary waveform generator to produce repeatable, controllable motion of a radar reflective surface on the loudspeaker. The microcontroller has software that generates a realistic heart and respiration rhythm with appropriate randomness. The rhythm source drives numerical oscillators that generate a series of digital words representing the position of the target versus time. The samples are fed to a power driver that puts a current through the loudspeaker, moving it in a way similar to that of a human or other animal.

Current simulators for seismic and acoustic victim detection systems do not produce realistic radar signatures. This device allows objective testing and evaluation of the FINDER victim detection radar and its software. It can be used in field training for future versions of FINDER, and with portable lab equipment to characterize microwave propagation through rubble or other media.

This work was done by James P. Lux and Carson Umsted of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Innovative Technology Assets Management
Mail Stop 321-123
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109-8099
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Refer to NPO-49421.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Test, Calibration, and Training Target for a Microwave Sensor

(reference NPO-49421) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

Don't have an account? Sign up here.

Test & Measurement Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2015 issue of Test & Measurement Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.