HD TomoGPR: Ground Penetrating Radar System and Algorithms for Fine Root Analysis

Period of Performance: 04/06/2015 - 04/05/2017

$1.5MM

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

RNET Technologies, Inc.
240 West Elmwood Dr Suite 2010
Dayton, OH 45459
Firm POC
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a pervasive technology in the geophysical mapping space, especially when relatively fine-grained features must be analyzed. While GPR is a state-of-the-art subsurface mapping technology, the resolution is fundamentally limited and is a major hurdle to using non-invasive geophysical mapping in many scenarios. In addition, in the many scenarios where GPR is used, the cost to performing a high quality geophysical mapping is high due to the high level of GPR expertise that is required to collect and interpret the raw GPR data. Therefore, novel techniques are required to improve the resolution imagining capabilities of GPR systems. The proposed HD TomoGPR is a mobile, fieldable high-resolution subsurface 3D image generation system based on unconventional GPR. The system can be used in any situation where an accurate underground visualization is required. Potential use cases include fine-grained root analysis, concrete analysis, and geological surveying of construction sites. The primary benefits, as compared to other GPR systems, are improved resolution ( 2mm) and improved 3D imaging for easy survey analysis. The 3D imaging benefits are derived from the increased data collection (via multiple antenna look angles collected from a stable data collection platform) that supports state-of-the-art GPR tomography to generate high-resolution 3D images. Phase I focused on the development of the advanced radar system and interpretation software for relatively coarse roots and the investigation of the capabilities to advance the system for fine root analysis. The novel features of Phase I are the implementation of a 10 GHz GPR system and the application of novel GPR tomography to generate 3D pseudo images. Phase I focused on the development of the advanced radar system and interpretation software and the investigation of the capabilities to advance the system for fine root analysis (0.6 mm diameter objects are demonstrated). The overall objective of Phase II is to develop a commercial HD TomoGPR system that utilizes novel radar processing technology on an unconventional radar platform using COTS RF and compute components. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits HD TomoGPR provides an accurate, non-destructive subsurface imagining system that improves subsurface imaging resolution, reduces overall project costs, and in the case of scientific research (e.g., root analysis) enables experiments that are not currently feasible. The proposed GPR system offers the potential to be easily deployed by domain non-specialist with any RADAR background or expertise. As such, biologist, horticulturist, and life scientist will benefit from the successful commercialization of this technology for a variety of scientific studies and assessments. The HD TomoGPR images can also be used for concrete analysis (e.g., to identify rebar, tension cables, concrete voids, and foundation flaws)