A UK-developed automotive anti-collision radar that is being pursued as a solution to wind turbine interference with air traffic control radars is also being eyed as a possible collision avoidance sensor for unmanned aircraft. Cambridge Consultants (CC) says it is in talks with manufacturers interested in a see-and-avoid sensor cheap enough to install on commercial UAVs to allow them to fly in civil airspace.
In its automotive form, CC's holographic radar uses a single coherent transmitter and an array of receivers to create a three-dimensional picture out to 40 metres ahead of the car using holographic techniques. Everything is packaged on to an electronics board embedded in the car's bumper (aka fender). The Cambridge Holographic InFill radar being developed to track aircraft through the Doppler clutter created by rotating wind turbines will be a scaled up version of this sensor. (AviationWeek.com story here.)
Holographic infill radar (Artwork: Cambridge Consultants)
Now CC is testing the market for a UAV version. This would continuously illuminate the airspace around the aircraft, track all the targets in view and use predictive algorithms to detect and warn of potential conflicts. Because of the severe price pressure in the automotive market, the company expects the UAV radar to be low cost. With offices in both Cambridge, UK and Cambridge, MA, CC is no stranger to building radars. it started in the 1980s making radars to measure ice thickness, and now it makes a missile scoring radar.