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Techniques for Wire Recognition using mmW


Rotorcraft landing and takeoff is dangerous in environments where obstacles, particularly wires or power lines exist, and pilot vision is degraded by obscurants such as dust, smoke, fog, rain and snow. This SBIR would focus on a radar solution to detecting wires and power cables when landing in a visually degraded environment. Existing data for wires and power lines with millimeter wave radars produce either curtains or periodic bright spots through the bragg effect when used in traditional real beam imaging. However, if the sensor is capable of penetrating an obscurant and has an automated technique to recognize a power line or wire, the sensor can simply send data to an independent imager to nominally represent a wire without the need to image it. The development of a technique or algorithm to recognize wires at a variety of approach angles will improve the Army’s capability of operation in degraded visual environments. PHASE I: Phase I will investigate an approach to recognizing wires, including wires from 3/8” up to bundled high power transmission lines, from angles of incidence of 0 degrees (head on from the sensor) to 45 degrees angle of incidence from the sensor. The techniques proposed will utilize previously collected fully calibrated government furnished sensor data in the millimeter wave radar regime (W band). PHASE II: Phase II will further develop and refine techniques or algorithms /software to demonstrate the ability to detect and identify wires using the approaches laid out in Phase I. The laboratory demonstration will include formatted and calibrated W government supplied data with approaches to wires from a range of angles of incidence. The Phase II effort shall be capable of detecting bundled high power transmission lines (threshold) down to 3/8” smaller wires (objective), from angles of incidence of 0-20 degrees (threshold) and up to 45 degrees (objective) from detection ranges of 150 meters (threshold) out to 2 kilometers (objective). PHASE III: Phase III will build on the laboratory demonstration from Phase II to include integration with a W band radar sensor and a synthetic vision system to provide a full detection and visualization system for pilot situational awareness on rotary wing aircraft. The proposers will also consider other military applications including applications to fixed wing and UAV operations to enhance capabilities in degraded visual environments. Commercially, this capability enhancement can transition to the commercial aircraft industry for passenger airlines as well as the shipping industry. The end state system will also increase aircraft survivability for both private industry first responders and emergency medivac helicopter transports, as well as military pararescue aircraft in urban areas where wires may impact helicopter survivability. The end state system is directly applicable to sensor fusion efforts in the RDECOM Degraded Visual Environment Mitigation Program and can transition to PM Aviation. The technology, as it matures, can also transition to meeting the needs of Future Vertical Lift expected capabilities (survivability and enhanced capability in all weather, all environments) and expected mission tasks including enhancing the survivability medical pararescue rotary wing aircraft
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