At RADA USA, we focus on the military applications of radar technology that keep our warfighters safe. But as part of the larger ecosystem of innovation, we’re always inspired by the unique radar types and uses around the world, from weather to the future of healthcare. Check out these six industries that are revolutionizing radar technology.
Meteorology & Weather
One of the most well-known applications of radar technology is Doppler weather radar. You’ve likely seen graphical representations of it on a weather report on television or online. Doppler weather radar technology helps meteorologists locate and track incoming weather, like rain, snow, and hail.
Weather radar technology can detect a number of factors, including:
- The direction of an incoming storm
- The speed at which it is approaching
- The intensity of the precipitation
- The most likely type of precipitation (along with temperature, humidity, and pressure readings)
Weather radar was actually invented by accident, as it created clutter on the radar dashboards used by soldiers in World War II. While military forces quickly developed clutter reduction techniques to remove the distraction of weather, meteorologists also took interest in the development. Soon after, pulse-Doppler radar technology became a standard for tracking weather phenomena and quickly developed into one of the most popular applications of radar worldwide.
While you’re likely familiar with the applications of radar in meteorology and defense, healthcare may seem like an unlikely fit for this innovative technology. However, many applications are currently under development where radar technology could assist with patient health and monitoring.
There are three significant advantages to exploring radar in healthcare:
- Privacy – “Smart” health devices and medical imaging often collect photos or sensitive information about patients. This means healthcare facilities have to spend time and effort creating secure networks and storage for gigabytes of information every day. And in an era where personal privacy is top of mind, patients may be more willing to comply with doctors’ orders for monitoring if it feels less intrusive and carries less personal information about them.
- Comfort – Radar imaging could provide a non-invasive alternative to exploratory surgeries and other procedures. It can also track respiration, heart rate, and other vital signs, eliminating the need for uncomfortable on-body monitors and providing patients with more mobility and independence. Staying mobile has been proven to be a key factor for long-term recovery, so the ability for patients to move around the room freely could be a massive innovation for healthcare facilities.
- Opportunity – One of the greatest potential impacts of radar in the healthcare industry is that it could provide a new option for older adults and senior citizens who cannot live independently. Radar monitoring could add an extra layer of reassurance through motion sensing to alert emergency contacts about suspected falls or other medical issues. This is beneficial because it doesn’t require wearable medical alert devices that may be forgotten, broken, or are simply uncomfortable to wear.
While applications of radar in healthcare are still in their infancy, we’re excited to see how doctors and hospitals can utilize this innovative technology.
Mapping & Astronomy
Most of the industries that utilize radar technology are examples of radar detection, where a returned signal identifies the presence or absence of an object in space. This simple concept can be expanded to detect size, direction, and speed.
However, there are a few industries that instead use radar mapping to complete key tasks. Radar mapping sends out a signal and calculates the distance of various objects based on the time it takes for the signal to be reflected. It can then build a three-dimensional, geographic landscape with this information. This is one of the techniques used to map out not only Earth, but the entire solar system.
The impact of radar mapping on space discovery has fluctuated over the years as cameras and other technology have advanced alongside radar technology. Radar mapping’s most recent comeback was in the late 80s and early 90s as part of the Magellan mission to map the entire surface of Venus. This mission opened new doors and showed that the applications of radar are truly endless.
Law enforcement agencies like state (and some local) police utilize radar speed guns to detect speeding vehicles on the road. Most often, they are used in a stationary vehicle pointed toward oncoming traffic. They can detect speed from over a mile away, given the right angle and circumstances.
One of the most common misconceptions is that the types of radar used by police are all traditional radar speed guns. However, police often use LIDAR (light detection and ranging) as well, which utilizes a laser – rather than a signal – to measure the distance and speed of oncoming cars.
In addition to speed detection, law enforcement agencies use ground-penetrating radars to detect evidence and inconsistencies underground. Whether they’re looking for buried evidence, graves, bunkers, or tunnels, radar technology can help officers map the ground below without having to bring in expensive excavation equipment.
Military & Defense
Our list wouldn’t be complete without speaking to the immense innovations and applications of radar in the armed forces. Radars are an integral part of defense, with objectives including:
- Detection and search
- Instrumentation and measurement
- Navigation and air traffic
From identifying incoming threats to providing performance data, the use of radar in the military is infinitely broad. At RADA USA, we build radar systems for four main mission objectives:
- Active protection, vehicle protection, and hostile fire detection
- Counter rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM)
- Short-range air defense (SHORAD) and counter-unmanned aerial system (C-UAS)
- Hemispheric surveillance
Radar is one of the primary ways to keep warfighters safe on the battlefield, whether on land, at sea, or in the air. It’s also one of the industries where we’ve seen the most innovations in radar technology due to the life-or-death nature of applications of radar in the defense space.