Special Section on Active Electro-Optical Sensing: Phenomenology, Technology, and Applications

Laser range profiling for small target recognition

[+] Author Affiliations
Ove Steinvall, Michael Tulldahl

FOI (Swedish Defence Research Agency), Department of Electro-Optical Systems, P.O. Box 1165, 583 11 Linköping, Sweden

Opt. Eng. 56(3), 031206 (Oct 21, 2016). doi:10.1117/1.OE.56.3.031206
History: Received June 14, 2016; Accepted September 20, 2016
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Abstract.  Long range identification (ID) or ID at closer range of small targets has its limitations in imaging due to the demand for very high-transverse sensor resolution. This is, therefore, a motivation to look for one-dimensional laser techniques for target ID. These include laser vibrometry and laser range profiling. Laser vibrometry can give good results, but is not always robust as it is sensitive to certain vibrating parts on the target being in the field of view. Laser range profiling is attractive because the maximum range can be substantial, especially for a small laser beam width. A range profiler can also be used in a scanning mode to detect targets within a certain sector. The same laser can also be used for active imaging when the target comes closer and is angularly resolved. Our laser range profiler is based on a laser with a pulse width of 6 ns (full width half maximum). This paper will show both experimental and simulated results for laser range profiling of small boats out to a 6 to 7-km range and a unmanned arrial vehicle (UAV) mockup at close range (1.3 km). The naval experiments took place in the Baltic Sea using many other active and passive electro-optical sensors in addition to the profiling system. The UAV experiments showed the need for a high-range resolution, thus we used a photon counting system in addition to the more conventional profiler used in the naval experiments. This paper shows the influence of target pose and range resolution on the capability of classification. The typical resolution (in our case 0.7 m) obtainable with a conventional range finder type of sensor can be used for large target classification with a depth structure over 5 to 10 m or more, but for smaller targets such as a UAV a high resolution (in our case 7.5 mm) is needed to reveal depth structures and surface shapes. This paper also shows the need for 3-D target information to build libraries for comparison of measured and simulated range profiles. At closer ranges, full 3-D images should be preferable.

© 2016 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers


Ove Steinvall and Michael Tulldahl
"Laser range profiling for small target recognition", Opt. Eng. 56(3), 031206 (Oct 21, 2016). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.OE.56.3.031206

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