DARPA Awards HRL Contract for Advanced Scanning Technology for Imaging Radars (ASTIR)

On March 10, 2015, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) announced an award to HRL Laboratories, LLC for the ASTIR program.  The goal of ASTIR is to demonstrate a fundamentally new imaging radar architecture through basic research on “…innovative imaging radar architectures that can provide high frame-rate, three dimensional imaging of objects through adverse obscurants (fog, smoke, heavy rain, etc.) without requiring target or platform motion.”

The HRL approach leverages Coded aperture radar, a technology invented, developed, and demonstrated at HRL, to develop a Coded Aperture Subreflector Array (CASA) for affordable, high-resolution radar imaging without the need for a moving platform.  This technology provides a scalable approach with unsurpassed pattern control, flexibility in operating frequency and digital beamforming at the sub-array level.  CASA achieves low latency 3D imaging by modulating both transmitted and received radar signals with binary phase codes, inverting the known codes to determine the individual element signals, then applying weights to digitally construct independent (multiplicative) transmit and receive beams.

HRL will be applying their expertise in millimeter wave sensors, including antenna arrays, silicon micromachining, wafer bonding and ASIC design and implementation, to evaluate and demonstrate CASA performance and manufacturability.

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Written by Samuel Gasster, Ph.D.

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HRL Laboratories, LLC, Malibu, California (hrl.com) is a corporate research-and-development laboratory owned by The Boeing Company and General Motors specializing in research into sensors and materials, information and systems sciences, applied electromagnetics, and microelectronics. HRL provides custom research and development and performs additional R&D contract services for its LLC member companies, the U.S. government, and other commercial companies.

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