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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

The Phased Array Terrain Interferometer (PathIn): A New Sensor for UAS Synthetic Vision and Ground Collision Avoidance, Phase I

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

The Phased Array Terrain Interferometer (PathIn): A New Sensor for UAS Synthetic Vision and Ground Collision Avoidance

This proposal introduces an innovative sensor concept for the mitigation of aircraft hazards due to reduced visibility in fog, drizzle and light rain and the detection of hazards/obstacles on runways. Specifically, this effort will build upon a developing synthetic vision system for landing piloted aircraft to: 1) customize the design and feasibility for targeted unpiloted autonomous systems (UAS), and 2) incorporate interferometry for terrain mapping and hazard detection. Dubbed "PathIn", the proposed sensor is comprised of a Ka-band digitally beamformed (DBF) radar interferometer that will serve as a complement to existing infrared (IR) and near-IR enhanced visualization systems and provide a real-time data interface for ground-collision avoidance systems. The proposed effort is aligned with the effort to integrate UAS into the National Airspace (NAS). The Phase 1 effort will assess the PathIn performance for sample UAS flight scenarios over variable terrain using a high-fidelity point target simulator to provide synthetic digital surface maps and obstacle detections. This will demonstrate the potential of the PathIn as a technology that can contribute toward safe UAS operation in the NAS and in the terminal area. In Phase II we will realize a prototype of the PathIn sensor, leveraging our extensive radar, interferometry and DBF experience and key technology capabilities. In particular a FPGA-based digital receiver system will be extended for real-time beamforming and interferometry. At the end of the Phase I, a technology readiness level of 3 will be achieved.

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