Military Radar Comes to Home Security Market

Security around the globe just got a boost with the release of a stationary, digital beamforming radar from Cassidian Sensors and Electronic Warfare of Unterschleissheim, Germany. The SPEXER 1000 brings military-class performance to security applications, allowing facilities to monitor a 120° field of view economically across a range as long as 17km (10.6 miles). The complete system is designed for easy installation and integration with command and control systems on stationary and mobile platforms monitoring land, sea, or air.

Terrorists and insurgents often focus on high-value domestic targets such as oil fields and power plants, making perimeter security a key concern. Visible and IR imaging systems can provide remote monitoring, but they’re vulnerable to environmental effects like fog and duststorms and require design tradeoffs in areas such as field of view, depth of focus, and cost. The x-band SPEXER 1000 provides an alternative.

Military Radar Comes to Home Security Market

A stationary frequency-modulated continuous-wave radar, the SPEXER 1000 can monitor the zone of 120° with an update rate of 1.5s.

Photo courtesy of Cassidian

Like other non-optical radars, the SPEXER 1000 can only generate a limited set of results — position and velocity — but in some ways, therein lies its strength. Using the system, a guard at a refinery can easily assess a broad buffer zone at a glance, rather than having to constantly scan banks of screens to detect suspicious activity.

Conventional radar systems often rotate to cover 360°, but that’s not always necessary in security applications. Often, perimeters can be secured by monitoring specific areas of vulnerability, which speeds up the process while reducing power demand and avoiding the acquisition and processing of unnecessary data. An airport system, for example, could ignore passenger entry points but would need to cover regions at the ends of runways or around the fuel depot.

The SPEXER 1000 consists of a stationary, frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar featuring 30 receive channels, each with dedicated analog-to-digital conversion. The system, developed by Cassidian, leverages digital beamforming techniques to scan the field of view electronically, with each channel independently covering a range of ±50°. The design allows users to focus on areas of interest while speeding the update rate to 1.5s. Users can even set the system to cover only designated subsectors within the overall field of view, further reducing both scan time and energy consumption. The increased dwell time enhances dynamic range, allowing the unit to track targets moving at speeds as low as 0.7km/hr (0.5 mi/hr).

Detecting the velocity of objects involves nuances. A person has what we can think of as a group velocity — the speed at which he or she is walking or running — along with a set of local velocities, which represent the movement of arms and legs. Digital processing capabilities, combined with the dwell time, let the Cassidian radar correlate data with complex velocity signatures to differentiate a saboteur on foot from a truck. This not only permits rough object classification, but it can also reduce false positives such as signals generated by small animals.

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