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Proceedings Paper

Analysis of laser-ranging technology for sense and avoid operation of unmanned aircraft systems: the tradeoff between resolution and power
Author(s): Gary Euliss; Alan Christiansen; Ravi Athale
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Paper Abstract

An investigation of power and resolution for laser ranging sensors is performed in relation to sense and avoid requirements of miniature unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Laser rangefinders can be useful if not essential complements to video or other sensing modalities in a sense and avoid sensor suite, particularly when applied to miniature UAS. However, previous studies addressing sensor performance requirements for sense and avoid on UAS have largely concentrated, either explicitly or implicitly, on passive imaging techniques. These requirements are then commonly provided in terms of an angular resolution defined by a detection threshold. By means of a simple geometric model, it is assumed that an imaging system cannot distinguish an object that subtends less than a minimum number of detector pixels. But for sensors based on active ranging, such as laser rangefinders and LADAR, detection probability is coupled to the optical power of the laser transmitter. This coupling enables the sensors to achieve sub-pixel resolution, or resolution better than the instantaneous field-of-view, and to compensate for insufficient angular resolution by increasing transmitter power. Consequently, when considering sense and avoid detection requirements for laser rangefinders or LADAR, a tradeoff emerges between resolution and power, which, owing to the inherent relationship of size and weight to system resolution, translates to a tradeoff between resolution and sensor size, weight, and power. In this presentation, we investigate the existence of an optimum compromise between sensor resolution and power, concentrating on platforms with particularly challenging payload limitations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 April 2008
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6962, Unmanned Systems Technology X, 696208 (16 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.777562
Show Author Affiliations
Gary Euliss, The MITRE Corp. (United States)
Alan Christiansen, The MITRE Corp. (United States)
Ravi Athale, The MITRE Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6962:
Unmanned Systems Technology X
Grant R. Gerhart; Douglas W. Gage; Charles M. Shoemaker, Editor(s)

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