Improved target recognition using polarimetric ladar

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physics Innovations, Inc.
P.O. Box 2171
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Flash laser radar (ladar) systems have been developed for automatic target identification in military surveillance systems. Ideally, the system is able to distinguish pixels containing the target from pixels containing background. A signal processor then uses the range value at target pixels to estimate the target's 3-D shape (angle-angle-range) and, from the 3-D shape, identify the target. However, for targets in clutter and partially hidden targets, there are ambiguities in determining which pixels are on target, that lead to uncertainties in determining the target's 3-D shape. A promising method for improving the determination of which pixels are on target is to use the polarization components of the reflected light. By sensing the depolarization of the reflected light at every pixel, the pixels on target can be distinguished from pixels on clutter and background. With a less ambiguous determination of which pixels are on target, the target's 3-D shape can be more accurately estimated, leading to a more accurate identification of the target. In the Phase I project, we will evaluate the feasibility of improving automatic target identification by using a polarization diverse flash ladar system (PDFL). In the Phase II project, we will develop and test a breadboard//brassboard PDFL system. Identification of targets at long ranges in clutter, partially hidden among trees, and in low visibility conditions. Guidance of unmanned vehicles. Underwater mine detection. Drug interdiction. Monitor construction site activities. Surveillance for Law enforcement. Meteorology. Highway safety. Environmental monitoring. Solar system exploration.