Gregory Charvat and a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are helping to usher in a new age of phased array radar technology, reports Fox News. Thanks to advanced microwave technology, U.S. military forces will soon have access to a form of radar that literally sees through walls. Objects, animals and human beings can be detected through solid concrete.
MIMO microwave radar is here
The Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) phased radar array device under development by Charvat and his Lincoln Laboratory company looks simple enough: Two rows of antenna, eight receiving elements and 13 transmitters, all mounted on a portable cart.
The portability is significant, as one of the intended purposes for the MIMO radar will be “urban combat situations,” Charvat told PC Magazine. From a distance as far as 60 feet, a military unit will be able to scan at a rate of 10.8 frames per second, far exceeding current radar technology.
“If you’re in a high-risk combat situation, you don’t want one image every 20 minutes, and you don’t want to have to stand right next to a potentially dangerous building,” he said.
How radar works
Humans and animals see via visible light waves that bounce off objects and travel back to the retina of the eye. Radar works on a similar principle, bouncing radio waves off targets and waiting for them to return to the radar receiver.
By using microwaves, Lincoln Laboratory researchers believe they have solved the problem of radar not being able to penetrate walls effectively. While X-rays would also penetrate, the amount of radiation released to achieve such ends would be too dangerous, according to Charvat.
“We use microwave technology that’s about as powerful as a cellular phone, so it’s very weak,” he said.
Urban war and rescue
While MIMO technology was developed first and foremost with U.S. military forces in mind, police and emergency response use is not out of the question once refinements to the system are made.
“This is meant for the urban war fighter … those situations where it’s very stressful, and it’d be great to know what’s behind that wall.”
Phased array microwave radar at work
Fox News: http://fxn.ws/n3QN1O
IEEE Explore: http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?arnumber=5613314&tag=1
MIT News: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/ll-seeing-through-walls-1018.html
PC Magazine: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2394935,00.asp
Radar and Microwave Remote Sensing: http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sect8/Sect8_1.html
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