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New dolphin inspired radar system to help detect hidden explosives

Last Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:17

Washington: Scientists have invented a new radar system that is inspired by the way dolphins hunt using bubble nets.

The twin inverted pulse radar (TWIPR) is able to distinguish true `targets`, such as certain types of electronic circuits that may be used in explosive or espionage devices, from `clutter` (other metallic items like pipes, drinks cans, nails for example) that may be mistaken for a genuine target by traditional radar and metal detectors.

The team led by Professor Tim Leighton from the University`s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research developed a new radar system that is based on his unique sonar concept called twin inverted pulse sonar (TWIPS).

TWIPS exploits the natural abilities of dolphins to process their sonar signals to distinguish between targets and clutter in bubbly water. Some dolphins have been seen blowing `bubble nets` around schools of fish, which force the fish to cluster together, and their sonar would not work if they could not distinguish the fish from the bubbles.

Professor Leighton`s team proposed that the TWIPS method could be applied to electromagnetic waves and that the same technique would work with radar. They teamed up with Professor Hugh Griffiths and Dr Kenneth Tong of University College London and Dr David Daniels of Cobham Technical Services to test the proposal, by applying TWIPR radar pulses to a `target` (a dipole antenna with a diode across its feedpoint - typical of circuitry in devices associated with covert communications, espionage or explosives) to distinguish it from `clutter` (represented by an aluminium plate and a rusty bench clamp). In the test, the tiny target showed up 100,000 times more powerfully than the clutter signal from an aluminium plate measuring 34 cm by 40 cm.

The study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

First Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:17
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