As small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are introduced into the national airspace, measures must be introduced to ensure that they do not interfere with manned aviation and other UAS. Radar provides an attractive solution because of its inherent range accuracy and because it works in diverse weather and lighting conditions. Traditional radar systems, however, are large and high power and do not meet the size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints imposed by UAS, and fully integrated automotive solution do not provide the necessary range. This thesis proposes a compact radar system that meets both the SWaP and range requirements for UAS and can act as a standalone sensor for a sense and avoid system (SAA). The system meets the field of view requirements motivated by the UAS sensing problem (120deg x 30deg) and tracks targets in range and azimuthal angle using a four element phased array receiver. The phased array receiver implements real time correlation and beamforming using a field programmable gate array (FPGA) and can track multiple targets simultaneously. Excluding antennas, the radar transceiver and signal processing platform weighs approximately 120g and is approximately the size of a whiteboard eraser (2.25in x 4in x 1in), which meets the payload requirements of many small (<25kg) UAS. To our knowledge, this is the first real time phased array radar that meets the sensing and SWaP requirements for small UAS.Our testing was done with the radar system on the ground, aimed at airborne UAS targets. Using antennas with a gain of 12 dB, and 800 milliwatts of transmitted power, the system detects UAS targets with a radar cross section of less than 0.1 square meters up to 150 meters away. The ground based system demonstrates radar detectability of extremely small UAS targets, and is scalable to further ranges by increasing antenna gain or adding additional elements. Based on our success in detecting airborne UAS, we conclude that radar remains a feasible option for a UAS collision avoidance sensor.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Electrical and Computer Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





FMCW, Radar, Phased Array, UAV, UAS, Sense and Avoid