22. February 2016

Faster de­tec­tion of land­mines us­ing radar

Ini­tial ex­per­i­ments
Image 1/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Initial experiments

TIRA­MI-SAR in front of the Tech­lab build­ing at the DLR Mi­crowaves and Radar In­sti­tute in Oberp­faf­fen­hofen. The radar is mount­ed on a small truck, which can then drive along­side the area to be ex­am­ined. A sand pit mea­sur­ing 12 by eight me­tres was used for ini­tial ex­per­i­ments to op­ti­mise and val­i­date the sys­tem.
TIRA­MI-SAR – radar sys­tem for land­mine de­tec­tion
Image 2/4, Credit: TIRAMISU.

TIRAMI-SAR – radar system for landmine detection

The de­vice tow­er, with radar elec­tron­ics, an­ten­na arm, and an­ten­na ar­ray can be mount­ed in the load area of a small truck. The an­ten­na ar­ray con­sists of two trans­mit­ting and four re­ceiv­ing an­ten­nas, di­rect­ed side­ways and oblique­ly down­wards. The ar­row-head-shaped an­ten­nas can scan a con­tam­i­nat­ed area while the ve­hi­cle con­tin­ues to drive on safe ter­rain. The im­age shows TIRA­MI-SAR in scan­ning mode on very damp ground at the test site be­long­ing to the Bel­gian ex­plo­sive de­vice dis­pos­al team, DO­VO/SEDEE.
Mea­sure­ment re­sult with pre­vi­ous de­tec­tion meth­ods
Image 3/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Measurement result with previous detection methods

Ex­am­ple of a test sce­nario with typ­i­cal buried ob­jects such as mines or grenades. On the left is a plan of the lay­out. The yel­low tri­an­gles mark radar re­flec­tors that were placed on the ground and served as ref­er­ence ob­jects. On the right is the re­sult of mea­sure­ments with a con­ven­tion­al ground pen­e­trat­ing radar sys­tem that us­es on­ly one trans­mit­ting and re­ceiv­ing an­ten­na. In the radar record­ing the six re­flec­tors are clear­ly vis­i­ble, but the buried ob­jects them­selves (with­in the white rect­an­gle) are hard to dis­tin­guish from the soil sur­face. The echoes of the radar sig­nals can­not be clear­ly as­signed and de­tec­tion is not pos­si­ble.
Qual­i­ty im­prove­ment with TIRA­MI-SAR
Image 4/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Quality improvement with TIRAMI-SAR

Ex­am­ple of the im­proved qual­i­ty of the de­tec­tion re­sults us­ing TIRA­MI-SAR. The buried ob­jects can be seen clear­ly in the radar im­age on the right. This radar im­age is the re­sult of the su­per­po­si­tion of eight radar im­ages from the two trans­mit­ting and four re­ceiv­ing an­ten­nas in the DLR-de­vel­oped sys­tem. To­geth­er with the use of dif­fer­ent sig­nal po­lar­i­sa­tions, a clear­er as­sign­ment of radar echoes is now pos­si­ble.

According to "Land­mine Mon­i­tor 2015" every day around 10 people – as well children – are injured or even killed by landmines or other explosive remnants of war. Probably a huge and rather unknown amount of such devices is still installed, posing a constant threat even long after the end of a conflict. In order to facilitate the reconstruction of a country and the safe return of refugees, the ground must be cleared of concealed ordnance. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has developed a radar-based method, 'TIRAMI-SAR', that will allow for the quick, safe and cost-effective detection of landmines.

For the first time, clearance personnel are able to examine areas of up to several hundreds of square metres in just a few minutes. It is only possible to search a few square metres in the same period of time using conventional methods. Until now, primarily metal detectors or conventional ground-penetrating radars have been used, in addition to sniffer dogs. Also, factors such as soil composition, soil moisture content, or the material properties of the mines may have an adverse impact on the performance of the above techniques. This is where TIRAMI-SAR's strong performance is particularly advantageous. It means that any objects found can be re-examined in a more targeted way using other sensors. This increases the reliability of the radar for detecting buried landmines or unexploded ordnance.

The innovative ground-penetrating radar and detection procedure was developed, built, and tested by the DLR Microwaves and Radar Institute as part of the EU Project TIRAMISU: Hu­man­i­tar­i­an Dem­i­ning Tool­box (Toolbox Implementation for Removal of Anti-personnel Mines, Submunitions and Unexploded Ordnance) project. The developers were able to demonstrate the performance of TIRAMI-SAR in numerous experiments – most recently in September 2015 on a test site belonging to the Belgian explosive device disposal team, DOVO/SEDEE, in Meerdael. The excellent results are now being presented to those responsible at the European Union project completion meeting on 19 February 2016 in Brussels.

Safe searching and high-precision analysis

The radar system is currently designed to fit on the load area of a small truck and is equipped with multiple transmitting and receiving antennas. The antennas operate in the ultra-high frequency range between 500 megahertz and 3 gigahertz and are directed sideways and obliquely downwards. Thus, the operators can move the vehicle on safe terrain while the radar scans a nearby contaminated area.

Each object, each area of land – each surface – reflects radar signals with varying intensity. With the help of sophisticated algorithms, TIRAMI-SAR then processes all radar echoes received into an 'intensity map' while driving along. Thanks to the method that has been developed, for the first time it is possible to quickly and efficiently search large areas for suspicious objects. TIRAMI-SAR makes clear what is located on and under the surface of the ground.

Security research

As part of the security research carried out by DLR, research and development activities relating to defence and security have been planned and directed in collaboration with partners in government, academia, industry, and international organisations. The cross-disciplinary field of security research thereby links to the core competencies of established DLR programmes in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, and transport. In total, more than twenty DLR Institutes and Facilities are contributing their work relating to security for the development, testing, and evaluation of technologies, systems, and components as well as their analysis and evaluation skills with regards to security applications.

Contact
  • Bernadette Jung
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Pub­lic Af­fairs and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions: Oberp­faf­fen­hofen, Augs­burg, Weil­heim
    Telephone: +49 8153 28-2251
    Fax: +49 8153 28-1243
    Münchener Straße 20
    82234 Oberpfaffenhofen-Wessling
    Contact
  • Dr.-Ing. Markus Peichl
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    DLR Mi­crowaves and Radar In­sti­tute, De­part­ment of Re­con­nais­sance and Se­cu­ri­ty
    Telephone: +49 8153 28-2390
    Fax: +49 8153 28-1135
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Köln
    Contact
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