Radio-Holographic Object Imaging Technology Based on Forward Scattering Phenomena for Security Sensor Networks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Electronic, Electrical and Computer Eng


Protection of homeland territory, offshore and overseas assets and related national economic and political interests are strategically important priorities for the UK and the world community. Worldwide economical and political crisis over the last few years has deepened this challenge and the UK witnesses the consequences of it, resulting in increased illegal immigration entries, piracy, and threats to commercial and national assets. Technological advances become quickly available to criminals so that flexibility of contra-measures, including development of deployable sensor networks, re-use of existing communication technologies with multi-mode operation, advanced signal processing is required to tackle the modern challenges. This requires targeted R&D of high-performance cost-effective electronic security (ESS) systems, including practical implementation and development of efficient digital signal processing algorithms. ESS is one of the world's largest (and growing) markets worth about $62 bn a year with UK companies fundamentally involved at the hi-tech end of this industry. An essential segment of the ESS market relates to perimeter/border protection solutions to provide situational awareness and, importantly, real-time recognition and identification of intruders, based on reliable all weather, day and night operation in complex environmental conditions.
There is no single solution, so that general approach is to use all technologies and systems available, which can complement each other by providing additional information or data fusion.
Widely used for surveillance, electro-optical or mm wave real time imaging systems are not efficient in the absence of line-of-sight and poor transparency of propagation media: walls, foliage, fog, smoke, snow, etc. In contrast, relatively low frequency radio signals penetrate such obstacles and this is the reason why all long-range surveillance and security missions are entrusted to radars. In traditional radar which process the reflections from the target, a target is viewed as a set of bright points, scintillating in amplitude and changing position with aspect angle, as it is composed of many scatterers. Thus even in high performance radar, automatic target recognition remains the most difficult task. At the same time the value of virtually all wide area surveillance radar is substantially reduced by the absence of reliable target classification functionality.
This project addresses an important application area - that of low observable or, so-called 'difficult' target imaging in low-cost deployable radio frequency (RF) forward scatter (FS) perimeter protection radar networks. This radar has already proven its excellent detection and target parameter estimation ability. The highly sought-after recognition capability for such a radar network will be provided by combining, for the first time, the Target Shadow Profile Reconstruction (TSPR) technique with MIMO approaches. The novel imaging approach will be based on accurate solution of inverse diffraction problem to reconstruct the target silhouette by a network of distributed RF sensors, configured as a multi-tier chain of RF transmitters and receivers. Each pair of separated transmitter and receiver forms a section of an 'electronic fence', so that each crossing of the baseline is registered and processed in real time. A multi-tier configuration will provide crossings of multiple baselines by the same target allowing multi-perspective images, so that non-coherent MIMO will be exploited for enhanced imaging capability. Coherent synchronized virtual MIMO array will be also investigated on its ability to form an improved multi-perspective target shape outline. The reconstructed target profiles will be a base for the automatic target recognition (ATR).The introduction of target imaging by FS sensors will facilitate implementation of the fully functional radar system for perimeter protection and surveillance.

Planned Impact

Societal beneficiaries

Old and new threats to security and economy of UK over the last decade directly affect our society. This project has the potential to have a major impact on security of UK citizens, society, prosperity, political stability and well-being. Ultimately beneficiaries are UK citizens, society, and in particular, employees and owners of ESS and defence companies and security agencies.
There are particular aspects in modern UK society which we expect to positively impact: first, the promotion of engineering and, second, the recruitment of home students in electronic engineering. This project is modern and exciting and can be presented to young people using media techniques to attract school students to a career in engineering.

Economic beneficiaries

An introduction of a brand new capability, namely Radio Frequency Holography imaging, for border protection security surveillance systems will majoratively impact on the security/defence sectors.
This will help to maintain the strong competitive advantages of companies such as SELEX ES and Thales in civil and military electronic security and strengthen the UK position in the ESS market. Due to the system's unique ability to fill specific gaps in the current range of modern remote-sensing technologies, widespread applications are expected with significant export opportunities for UK manufacturers.

In contrast to conventional imaging systems under other equal condition the RFH may operate at low frequency and narrowband signals could be used, that dramatically reduces the cost and solve spectrum allocation problem. In addition low-cost COTS components from the communications market (which is close to FSR) will be adopted, making the proposed systems cost-effective. Another advantages of the proposed technology are: automatic recognition by target profile is significantly less recourse-consuming than interpretation of microwave images and digital size of RFH image is incomparably smaller. Thus recognition could be implemented directly on the sensor board DSP, or data transfer by means of cheap mobile or low-orbit satellite communications will provide real-time access to databases for more sophisticated automatic recognition.
Due to mentioned system's unique ability to fill specific gaps in the current range of modern remote-sensing technologies, widespread applications are expected with significant export opportunities for UK manufacturers.

Currently UK and EU governments are considering the use of bistatic radars with non-cooperative transmitters (Passive Coherent Location systems) as a supporting tool for air traffic control systems, so the proposed imaging is a very promising prospective for air target identification.

This will include end users such as companies responsible for security and manufacturers of surveillance systems, and, ultimately, UK government institutions, such as DSTL and the Home Office. This will in turn lead to a stimulus for the defence and security industries which employ a large number of people.
Description New approach has been developed for Inverse problem of Radio Holographic imaging in Forward Scatter Radar, which allows an accurate 1D profile (silhouette) reconstruction of the object crossing the direct path link between transmit and receive radar nodes, thanks to the modulation of the link by shadow radiation from the object.
Physical optics based modelling of shadow radiation of moving target has been developed, allowing to simulate the radar signature, and importantly, complex envelope, in arbitrary setting, which can be used for algorithms development and testing.
New algorithms was tested experimentally in controlled and real-world scenarios to reconstruct the silhouettes of cars. Gaps in the existing modelling approaches were identified, which outline necessity of : (i) formulation of criteria to separate bistatic reflections and shadow radiation present in the Doppler signature, which affect the accurate target profile reconstruction (ii) problem of full 2D profile reconstruction, which 1D FFT cannot deliver. Therefore at least extra receiver is needed in order to eliminate ambiguity and build true 2D image; (iii) how to provide accurate reconstruction of envelope from a single available physical channel (I or Q).
Multi-static FSR has been developed.
Results were used in joined NATO SET trials, so very wide collaborations with researchers from EU, Australia, Turkey were established.
Exploitation Route Results were published, research visitors from Italy, Russia and China were coming to the group and this activity resulted in a knowledge transfer and wide dissemination of the results.
In particular we have several following collaborative (papers with the University of Rome, which started to work in this area by first sending 3 Research student visitors.
Nationally DSTL and Leonado are continuing to be interested in this work, evidenced by recent industrial scholarship on the subject, where profile reconstruction is one of the important objectives.
Sectors Aerospace

Defence and Marine

Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)


Security and Diplomacy


Description Made a research contribution in NATO SET-196 "Multi-channel/Multi-static radar imaging for non-cooperative targets", which is published as a separate chapter in a joint technical report of this NATO SET (representative groups from 9 countries) in " Multi-channel/Multi-static radar imaging for non-cooperative targets." A multichannel radar has been designed, and its capabilities were shown in joint NATO trial in Livorno, October 2014. Developed approach for profile reconstruction was one of the topics of this NATO SET. The outcomes have been used as a core of proposal "FERMI" made to EDA which is collaborative project of UoB and University of PISA (CNIT) on FSR.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Societal

Policy & public services

Description Reverse Forward Scatter Radar Analysis
Amount £94,500 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2020 
End 04/2024
Description Thales 
Organisation Thales Group
Department Thales Research & Technology (Uk) Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Funding Dr. M. Gashinova supervisor and Prof. M.Cherniakov co-supervisor of PhD student on ICASE funded by EPSRC/Thales total £90k,Thales contribution is £22k.
Collaborator Contribution Dr. Andrew Stove is a panel advisor on EPSRC project funded by EPSRC (Radio-Holographic Object Imaging Technology Based on Forward Scattering Phenomena for Security Sensor Networks, EP/L024578/1) with in-kind contribution appr. equal £15k Dr. Malcolm Stevens and Dr.Andrew Burnside are co-supervisors of ICASE PhD student on (THz reflectivities in complex environments)
Impact Two conference publications are currently submitted by PhD student on ICASE
Start Year 2013
Title Multi-receiver interferometric 300 GHz radar developed with ELVA-1 
Description Multi-receiver interferometric 300 GHz radar developed with ELVA-1 for 3 D image reconstruction 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact This will be used for 3D imaging in this project 
Title multi-channel USRP based Forward scatter radar system 
Description Multichannel radar system is developed which allows complex envelope signal extraction for at least two nodes of FSR to facilitate multiaspect target shadow profile reconstruction (TSPR) which potentially lead to 2.5 D target profiling. Signal processing was developed to extract TSP. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Conference paper presented in USA at IEEE radra conference in Washington Made a core of NATO SET-196 contribution was tested at NATO joined trials in Livorno Paper in progress to be submitted to Geoscience and remote sensing journal. 
Description NATO SET-196 Task Group on "Multichannel/Multistatic radar imaging of non-cooperative targets" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact NATO meetings help to define priorities at the current stage of the research within this specific area
Joint trials deliver new results and new ideas to worldwide NATO community

New results has been obtained which lead to new publications of my research team, its wider recognition within radar community and will add to ideas of further research proposals
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2014
Description Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution - Use of FSR demonstrator at the EESE stand at open day at UoB 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact EESE demonstrated a number of advanced technologies at their stand during December Open day to engage and attract future student to Electrical Engineering disciplines.
We have used our FSR equipment and codes to demonstrate in real time detection and signature of everyone entering the room, as a powerful tool for security.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018,2019