UCL News


UCL in the News: Good looker

23 April 2007

Radar technology is constantly evolving, but systems still struggle to identify exactly what a target is, spot small targets or see slow-moving objects against a shifting background.

Thales UK and UCL are collaborating in a four-year research project that aims to better understand the key issues facing radar systems. This will be used to develop new processing algorithms and inform future hardware designs. …

Prof Chris Baker [UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering], head of radar system research at UCL, whose chair in intelligent radar systems is co-sponsored by Thales and the Royal Academy of Engineering, will lead the research.

Baker said the project would be concerned with high-resolution imaging and detection of moving targets from the ground from a single radar system. 'More specifically, it will examine novel techniques able to use single waveforms which, when combined with adaptive signal processing, can achieve both tasks simultaneously,' he said. …

'All natural scenarios tend to be complex, such as a background of trees, hedges, or buildings. We would like to achieve better performance than is possible by a human. Then the all-weather, 24-hour operation that radar is capable of will become a huge advantage.'

Sea also makes detection difficult. 'Slow-moving targets on the surface are difficult to detect when they move at a similar velocity to the apparent velocity of the sea surface and have a similar-sized echo strength,' said Baker. …

Baker said military radar has tended to lead the way by developing higher-resolution imaging systems for more detail and providing greater sensitivity in the detection of moving targets. These capabilities then tend to appear at a later date in civil systems, which are typically space-based, to provide a global monitoring capability.

'Remote sensing of the earth is becoming more important in providing quantified measurements for climate and earth resources studies,' he said. 'Applications include monitoring of ocean currents, sea height, polar ice-cap melting, rain forest destruction oil spillages, terrain and relief mapping, subsidence detection and traffic monitoring.' …

'The Engineer'