Radar signatures for drones: Measurement campaign in BiRa test facility

Measuring the radar signatures of a VTOL drone In the BiRa test facility at the
Measuring the radar signatures of a VTOL drone In the BiRa test facility at the Center for Mobility Research (ThIMo)
To ensure safe and efficient traffic, the various objects in road and air traffic must be able to quickly detect their spatial environment using radar and communicate with each other via radio networks. In order to investigate the radar reflection of a so-called VTOL drone (short for "Vertical Take-Off and Landing"), which can take off and land vertically without a runway, the Electronic Measurements and Signal Processing (EMS) Group at TU Ilmenau has set up a test facility at the BiRa test facility has just completed an extensive measurement campaign at the BiRa test facility.

The new research equipment at the Center of Mobility Research (ThIMo) , which is part of the "Virtual Road - Simulation and Test Facility (VISTA)", the only one of its kind in Germany, measures the polarimetric bistatic reflectivity of radar targets, i.e. objects with separately adjustable illumination and observation angles, in three dimensions. The large real-time bandwidth of up to 4 GHz makes it possible to capture and resolve the time-varying behavior of extended targets. This means that in addition to vehicles, people or other traffic elements, other moving objects such as drones can also be considered as objects for the measurements. The system covers the frequency range from below 1 GHz to 160 GHz with small gaps.

The current measurements in the BiRa test facility are part of the 6G-ICAS4Mobility project and were carried out together with the project partner aeroDCS project partner. The results of the measurement campaign will be used to evaluate target detection and object recognition in so-called distributed multi-sensor (MS) ISAC networks and to train AI-based target recognition methods.

Paving the way for new resource-efficient services

ISAC or ICAS, short for "Integrated Sensing and Communications", i.e. the closer coupling of sensor-based environment detection and communication, is considered one of the most important new functions of future 6G mobile networks. TU Ilmenau project leader and Team Manager Radio Modeling, Sounding and Sensing, Christian Schneider, is convinced: "Radio sensing by reusing existing mobile radio and network resources will pave the way for new resource-efficient services that support safety-relevant applications such as the protection of critical infrastructures, safe traffic and efficient logistics on the road and in the air."

According to Prof. Reiner Thomä, ISAC expert at the EMS department, one focus of future 6G mobile networks could be so-called U-Space - traffic monitoring in lower airspace for commercial drone applications using UTM systems (short for "Uncrewed Aircraft Systems Traffic Management"): "MS-ISAC will enable such an area-wide monitoring system. The consortium, led by Robert Bosch GmbH, comprises 15 leading partners from universities, automotive suppliers, communication and radar specialists and drone providers.

More about the 6G-ICAS4Mobility project

More about the BiRA test facility

Publications on Distributed MS-ISAC networks

R. Thomä, T. Dallmann, S. Semper, "Distributed Multisensor ISAC," Seventh Issue of ISAC-Focus, isac.committees.comsoc.org/publications/newletters/ )

R. Thomä, T. Dallmann, "Distributed ISAC Systems - Multisensor Radio Access and Coordination," European Microwave Week (EuMW 2023), September 17 - 22, 2023, Focused Session "Joint Communication and Radar Sensing - a step towards 6G"