Surface Penetration and Imaging for Infrastructure Inspection Using Radar Sensors as UAS Payload

This project aims to improve the automatic inspection capability of infrastructure under all-weather conditions. The specific objectives include: (1) Develop and demonstrate a new low-size, weight, and power radar sensor that meets the unmanned aerial system (UAS) payload requirements and the need for surface penetration inspections; (2) Establish a formal operational procedure that can be applied to the regional and national tasks; (3) Evaluate the performance and capability of an integrated UAS system and sensing payload through data collections under different environments; and (4) Achieve dual-function (imaging and profiling) through existing signal processing and applying novel machine-learning methods. An innovative engineering approach based on the existing wideband, lightweight radar technology is proposed. The proposed system and its design will be capable of conducting infrastructure inspections remotely in a challenging environment. This research will be conducted through four tasks. Task 1 involves a detailed requirement analysis. In this task, the research team will work with the project stakeholders and consult with the related engineering standards to perform a detailed requirement analysis. The outcome will be confirmed requirement documents about sensor performance, frequency range, size, weight and power, and imaging capability. Task 2 involves sensor system designs and laboratory verifications. The research team will perform a detailed engineering design based on existing prototypes, determine the tradeoffs based on the state-of-the-art components and cost targets, and evaluate an option based on a software-defined radio (SDR). Task 3 involves modeling and simulation. The research team will evaluate radar signal penetration and propagation models for different types of bridges, roads, and construction materials. The model will further refine the radar sensor configuration design and tuning. Task 4 includes initial UAS payload design and verification, including mechanical and electrical designs based on the IF1200A UAS and its payload requirements for the radar design. The outcome will be mechanical drawings and further details on how the radar sensors would be installed into the UAS and any further improvements needed based on the initial payload designs. The proposed solution will provide significant benefits compared to the state-of-the-art in following ways: (1) Capability of inspecting underneath structure anomalies and problems; (2) Capability of penetrating the surface coverage such as dirt, rain, snow, or ice for examination of structure below; (3) Capability of operation near or within adverse weather and climate conditions, where the infrastructures are mostly in danger; and (4) Either using radar alone or in combination with cameras, the proposed sensor package would provide a reliable solution for surface structure inspection and potentially below-surface inspection from a standoff distance, under all-weather conditions, such as snow and dust coverage.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $105466
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Southern Plains Transportation Center

    University of Oklahoma
    201 Stephenson Pkwy, Suite 4200
    Norman, OK  United States  73019
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Oklahoma, Norman

    College of Engineering
    202 West Boyd Street
    Norman, OK  United States  73019-1024
  • Principal Investigators:

    Zhang , Yan

    Suarez, Hernan

  • Start Date: 20231001
  • Expected Completion Date: 20240930
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01899361
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Southern Plains Transportation Center
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3552348306 , CY1-OU-02
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Nov 15 2023 9:49PM