Army scientists pioneer novel chaotic ranging technology
August 7, 2013
- Chaotic voltage fluctuations are easy to generate in simple nonlinear electronic circuits made from a few low-cost, off-the-shelf parts.
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Aug. 7, 2013) -- Army scientists have developed promising new technology for ranging - determining the distance from one location or position to another location or position as with radar and sonar - that lowers cost and complexity by exploiting a phenomenon known as "chaos."
Chaos is a technical term in science that refers to complicated, random fluctuations found in many physical systems. Chaotic voltage fluctuations are easy to generate in simple nonlinear electronic circuits made from a few low-cost, off-the-shelf parts.
Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center physicists Ned Corron and Jonathan Blakely have explored a specific class of chaotic electronic oscillators with special properties, such as random voltage fluctuations with regular timing. They have proposed a novel implementation of low-probability-of-detection radar based on these unusual devices.
"The chaotic technology pioneered at AMRDEC allows for simple receiver circuits with no digital signal processing, dramatically reducing cost and power requirements and complexity of implementation. This novel radar would be well-suited for low-power radar applications such as collision avoidance, autonomous navigation, and soldier-carried systems," Blakely said.
As a first step in developing this new technology, the AMRDEC team partnered with Mark Stahl of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to implement an acoustic ranging proof-of-concept demonstration. The acoustic ranging system uses sound waves instead of microwaves, but the principle of operation is the same as for radar.
The acoustic demo is described in a paper that has just appeared in the journal "Chaos," a publication of the American Institute of Physics.
Ned Corron holds a bachelor of science in mathematics and physics from North Central College, and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Northwestern University. Jonathan Blakely has a bachelor of science in physics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and master of arts and Ph. D. degrees in physics from Duke University. In addition to his duties at AMRDEC, he also serves as an adjunct assistant professor of physics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Mark Stahl has a bachelor of science in physics from Wittenberg University and is currently pursuing a M.S. in electrical engineering at UA Huntsville. Stahl is a research physicist at MSFC. He first met Corr and Blakely several years ago while employed as an intern at AMRDEC.
AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.