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UAV-borne X-band radar for collision avoidance

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Robotica, Cambridge University Press, Volume 32, Issue 1, p.97-114 (2014)



The increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is coincidentally accompanied by a notable lack of sensors suitable for enabling further improvement in levels of autonomy and, consequently, integration into the National Airspace System (NAS). The majority of available sensors suitable for UAV integration into the NAS are based on infrared detectors, focal plane arrays, optical and ultrasonic rangefinders, etc. These sensors are generally not able to detect or identify other UAV-sized targets and, when detection is possible, considerable computational power is typically required for successful identification. Furthermore, the performance of visual-range optical sensor systems may suffer when operating under conditions that are typically encountered during search and rescue, surveillance, combat, and most other common UAV applications. However, the addition of a miniature RADAR sensor can, in consort with other sensors, provide comprehensive target detection and identification capabilities for UAVs. This trend is observed in manned aviation where RADAR sensors are the primary on-board detection and identification sensors. In this paper, a miniature, lightweight X-band RADAR sensor for use on a miniature (710-mm rotor diameter) rotorcraft is described. We present an analysis of the performance of the RADAR sensor in a realistic scenario with two UAVs. Additionally, an analysis of UAV navigation and collision avoidance behaviors is performed to determine the effect of integrating RADAR sensors into UAVs. Further study is also performed to demonstrate the scalability of the RADAR for use with larger UAV classes.