Accuracy is everything when it comes to threat classification. And when it comes to finding a way to better protect warfighters or launch effective countermeasures, relying on integrated technology is a key component to achieving that. Below, we’ll look at what multi-sensor fusion means in terms of radar and how it can lead to better results and outcomes in military applications.
What Is Multi-Sensor Fusion?
Simply put, sensor fusion is the process of taking multiple sensor sources and fusing the inputs from them together to show a single model or image of the environment being monitored.
Ultimately, merging this data gives the end-users a more reliable and holistic view of what’s happening for battle-space awareness.
Multi-sensor fusion uses heterogeneous sensor types to offset the drawbacks of using a single (homogenous) group of sensors. This helps mitigate the weaknesses in the piece of technology being used alone.
The Basics of A Radar Sensor
So how exactly does a radar sensor work? On a base level it:
- Transmits RF (radiofrequency) energy.
- Receives the reflected echo signals from targets.
- Uses signal processing to extract information from the reflected signal.
- Processes and calculates the target range, velocity, and angular position from the radar.
In radar, there are two types of sensors: continuous wave (CW) and pulse-Doppler. With continuous wave radar, the system emits a continuous and frequent wave of RF energy. Whereas pulse-Doppler utilizes pulse-timing techniques. Both radar types take advantage of the Doppler effect to create battle-space awareness.
In these transmitted signals, modulation plays a role in encoding data and providing more detail on those waves being sent out. Modulation involves altering a part of the waveform to include a modulation signal, which is what contains the information that will help end-users make sense of what the system is picking up.
Types of waveform modulation in radar include:
- Frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW)
- Phase and Frequency-shift keying (PSK/FSK)
- Linear frequency modulation (LFM)
So now that you have a basic idea of how a radar sensor can work, let’s look at the pros and cons of using them.
Pros of Radar Sensors
These sensors are great for battlefield surveillance because they can perform in night or day conditions, 24/7. Given all the environmental shifts that can happen in a battle space, this operational availability is a huge perk.
Plus, radar sensors can operate in all weather conditions — rain, fog, etc. They provide target detection and measured velocity at long ranges. And a radar sensor can also measure the range of a target with a single sensor. (Something that’s not possible with a single EO-IR sensor, which we’ll look at later below.)
Cons of Radar Sensors
Some of the downsides of radar sensors include that they can be affected by clutter, jamming, or RF interference. They’re also susceptible to multipath signals which degrades target location information.
A radar sensor also doesn’t support passive operation when being used as a monostatic radar. This can lead to it being detectable by nefarious actors.
How An EO-IR Sensor Can Enhance Radar Sensors
Electro-optical / infra-red (EO-IR) sensors help provide better situational awareness for threat classification by offering high-resolution imaging data for increased accuracy. (And that data is not susceptible to multipath signals.) This makes them a great addition to radar technology in the multi-sensor fusion process.
Like radar, an EO-IR sensor can also work well day or night and complement a radar sensor in providing an enhanced picture of battlefield surveillance. Together, the data from these two sources work synergistically to help better classify detected targets.
How Multi-Sensor Fusion Benefits Warfighters
The US Army office division that focuses on military intelligence made it clear in the last few years their goal-setting that in regards to modernization, they’re focused on technology that can deliver sophisticated intel. Multi-sensor fusion radar solutions provide just that.
Data fusion technology has provided clarity for warfighters and better accuracy to help safeguard them from threats and launch countermeasures. (Which is why it’s a vital part of RADA USA’s radar technology.) Simply put, here are the 3 top benefits it offers modern military operatives.
1. It Allows for Track Fusion to Provide Enhanced Visibility.
Track fusion is the process of leveraging different data from different types of sensors at the same time, which ultimately makes it possible to track multiple targets with better accuracy. The limitations of one sensor type are offset when it’s paired with other sensors that excel in those weak areas. As a result, the data that’s fused together gives a more complete picture of what’s actually happening.
2. It Offers More Accurate Results.
Because of that fuller view, military personnel is seeing a more accurate representation of battlefield surveillance. This in turn helps reduce the margin for error because multi-sensor fusion is providing more precise information to end-users.
3. It Leads To Better Decision-Making.
Due to increased clarity and enhanced intel data, there’s better situational awareness which then equips warfighters for better decision-making. In the case of detection and classification, better-informed choices ultimately can help better protect military personnel or ensure the right countermeasure is initiated to lead to success.