Monitoring of road traffic with airborne radar - The aim of this project is the development and demonstration of capabilities and potentials of airborne radar for road traffic management with the focus on event and disaster management. Only air- and spaceborne radar systems have the potential to monitor traffic and road situations over wide areas independent of day light and weather conditions. Presently, dedicated radar sensors are not available for operational traffic management. Only motorways are sufficiently equipped with local sensors (e.g. magnetic loops, bridge sensors) for estimating and monitoring the actual traffic situation. Outside motorways however the traffic situation is almost unknown due to the lack of local sensors. Although cooperative systems such as Floating Car Data (FCD) are candidates for this task, they have severe limitations outside urban areas. Airborne sensors installed on conventional aircraft or on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as well as spaceborne radar sensors have the potential to provide such wide area data without the need of additional on-board equipment in road vehicles.
This project work was originally initiated with the TRAMRAD project (Traffic Monitoring with Radar) and is now also contributing to the DLR traffic project ARGOS (Airborne wide area high altitude monitoring system). In ARGOS non-cooperative radar and optical systems will be combined to an all-weather sensor for the event and disaster management.
During the period from 2007-2009 the novel F-SAR – an experimental multi-channel airborne SAR system developed at the Institute with a high PRF (Pulse Repetition Frequency) of 5 kHz – is being adapted to ARGOS applications and used for experiments and demonstrations. Multi-channel data allow the application of modern GMTI (Ground Moving Target Indication) techniques – detection of moving targets on the Earth's surface using special radar techniques - which are under development to gain GMTI and SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) data products. Furthermore, new algorithms and hardware for on-board data processing will be developed as a prerequisite for the data downlink in near real-time to a ground station. An important milestone of the project work will be the specification of a compact radar system for the operation on a light-weight aircraft or even on HALE-UAV (High Altitude Long Endurance) platforms.