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Proceedings Paper

High-resolution 3D imaging laser radar flight test experiments
Author(s): Richard M. Marino; W. R. Davis; G. C. Rich; J. L. McLaughlin; E. I. Lee; B. M. Stanley; J. W. Burnside; G. S. Rowe; R. E. Hatch; T. E. Square; L. J. Skelly; M. O'Brien; A. Vasile; R. M. Heinrichs
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Paper Abstract

Situation awareness and accurate Target Identification (TID) are critical requirements for successful battle management. Ground vehicles can be detected, tracked, and in some cases imaged using airborne or space-borne microwave radar. Obscurants such as camouflage net and/or tree canopy foliage can degrade the performance of such radars. Foliage can be penetrated with long wavelength microwave radar, but generally at the expense of imaging resolution. The goals of the DARPA Jigsaw program include the development and demonstration of high-resolution 3-D imaging laser radar (ladar) ensor technology and systems that can be used from airborne platforms to image and identify military ground vehicles that may be hiding under camouflage or foliage such as tree canopy. With DARPA support, MIT Lincoln Laboratory has developed a rugged and compact 3-D imaging ladar system that has successfully demonstrated the feasibility and utility of this application. The sensor system has been integrated into a UH-1 helicopter for winter and summer flight campaigns. The sensor operates day or night and produces high-resolution 3-D spatial images using short laser pulses and a focal plane array of Geiger-mode avalanche photo-diode (APD) detectors with independent digital time-of-flight counting circuits at each pixel. The sensor technology includes Lincoln Laboratory developments of the microchip laser and novel focal plane arrays. The microchip laser is a passively Q-switched solid-state frequency-doubled Nd:YAG laser transmitting short laser pulses (300 ps FWHM) at 16 kilohertz pulse rate and at 532 nm wavelength. The single photon detection efficiency has been measured to be > 20 % using these 32x32 Silicon Geiger-mode APDs at room temperature. The APD saturates while providing a gain of typically > 106. The pulse out of the detector is used to stop a 500 MHz digital clock register integrated within the focal-plane array at each pixel. Using the detector in this binary response mode simplifies the signal processing by eliminating the need for analog-to-digital converters and non-linearity corrections. With appropriate optics, the 32x32 array of digital time values represents a 3-D spatial image frame of the scene. Successive image frames illuminated with the multi-kilohertz pulse repetition rate laser are accumulated into range histograms to provide 3-D volume and intensity information. In this article, we describe the Jigsaw program goals, our demonstration sensor system, the data collection campaigns, and show examples of 3-D imaging with foliage and camouflage penetration. Other applications for this 3-D imaging direct-detection ladar technology include robotic vision, avigation of autonomous vehicles, manufacturing quality control, industrial security, and topography.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 May 2005
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 5791, Laser Radar Technology and Applications X, (19 May 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.609679
Show Author Affiliations
Richard M. Marino, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
W. R. Davis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
G. C. Rich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
J. L. McLaughlin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
E. I. Lee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
B. M. Stanley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
J. W. Burnside, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
G. S. Rowe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
R. E. Hatch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
T. E. Square, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)
L. J. Skelly, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
M. O'Brien, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
A. Vasile, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)
R. M. Heinrichs, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Lab. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5791:
Laser Radar Technology and Applications X
Gary W. Kamerman, Editor(s)

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