Plextek assessed the potential of mm-wave radar, in a form compact enough to deploy on a small drone, to provide sense-to-avoid data. Radar directly generates range, bearing and Doppler information, greatly reducing processing load compared to a camera-based approach.
We selected operation at 60 GHz to take advantage of technology advancements in the consumer telecoms sector, reduce antenna size, and enable LPI/LPD characteristics. This enabled development of mechanical and frequency-scan demonstrators based on low cost COTS SiGe chipsets, with full radar functionality on a single printed circuit board.
Our results demonstrate successful detection of small, static obstacles above ground clutter, such as thin wire rope, metal poles, people, and cars at ranges out to hundreds of metres, plus Doppler processing delivering discrimination of moving objects such as small drones.