Damien Clarke, Lead Consultant, features in Cambridge Wireless Journal this week.

‘More instrumentation means more information and the data deluge is putting a strain on traditional architecture, Damien Clarke for Plextek looks at how edge computing is solving this with processing coming to the sensors.’

To read the full article click here.

See featured pages 36-39

Today’s autonomous vehicles rely on a wide variety of sensors to provide the spatial awareness necessary to navigate autonomously without intervention from the driver – and innovative radar technology compliments this plethora of sensors, forming the next evolutionary step in the advance to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles into our daily lives.

Ahead of our sponsorship of Cambridge Wireless’s International Conference 2019, Clem Robertson, Radar Capability Manager, features in Cambridge Wireless.

Read the full article.

Meet us at CW’s International Conference on 26th June 2019.

Foreign Object Detection Clears Runway For mm-Wave

By: Clem Robertson
Programme Manager

19th September 2018

Home » Micro Radar

I find myself writing about an acronym that many people have never heard about but in certain safety-critical environments, particularly airports, it is an acronym that rings alarm bells.

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on runways and taxiways causes a risk to passenger safety and costs airlines and air forces £millions each year from the damage to aircraft. The most notorious incident was the Paris Concorde accident in 2000 where a piece of metalwork fell of a DC10 upon take-off which minutes later punctured the tyre of the Air France Concorde causing it to crash in a field shortly after take-off. Threats from FOD can consist of anything from metalwork, tools, nuts and bolts, stones and wildlife where early detection of the presence of the item is paramount. In this blog I wish to talk about how Plextek is leading the way to deliver a cost effective and scalable solution which will meet the needs of airports around the world.

The conventional method for detecting FOD still employed by many commercial and military airports involves a periodic visual inspection of the runway either by a vehicle following an aircraft after it takes off or lands or by daily FOD walking exercises where a team walks in a line across the runway detecting and collecting FOD as they go. There are a number of commercially available solutions that are able to detect FOD on a runway but are often very expensive to deploy and have their weaknesses depending on the adopted technology.

 

Our revolutionary Millimetre-Wave Radar is particularly exciting.

In partnership with a South Korean partner, Plextek has been developing two market-leading radar solutions that provide a cost-effective, scalable platform for countering the FOD threat.

Utilising our expertise in antenna and radar systems design coupled with product design, embedded hardware, software and manufacturing expertise, the Plextek FOD radar solution utilises state of the art materials and mm-wave technology to provide a versatile cost-effective radar capable of detecting, discriminating and alerting the presence of a M5 nut and bolt (2cm object) to sub 10cm resolution at ranges of greater than 400m. When combined with our partner’s EO/IR and FOD detection command and control interface, the radar is capable of alerting the operator of new FOD within 1 minute of the FOD occurring.

So what is Innovative about the Plextek FOD radar solution?

Plextek has developed a common radar platform which can be deployed in either a stationary or mobile configuration.

The stationary radar setup is primarily aimed at high traffic airfield applications like commercial airfields where 24 hour, real-time and continuous surveillance for FOD is paramount to the safety and operational efficiency of the airport. Multiple stationary radar sensors along with EO/IR sensors are installed on towers down the side of the runway. Each stationary radar scans a portion of the runway looking in real-time for changes in the environment.


The mobile radar setup is designed to be installed on the top of a vehicle and driven down the runway between aircraft take-off and landings. The mobile radar sensor replaces the need for the person in the vehicle to detect FOD by visual inspections alone. This radar option is targeted at lower traffic airports like domestic airfields and military airports where there is not a need for 24h constant FOD surveillance or the necessary investment to install a stationary FOD setup.


Both Plextek FOD variants are presently performing extremely well on field trials in South Korea. Plextek is on schedule to start commercial field trials of both radar variants at Incheon International airport in Q1 2019 with both radars entering full operational service by 2020.

For me, it has been a pleasure to project manage such a groundbreaking piece of technology and I am excited to see the radar in operation at Incheon airport in the near future.

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I find myself writing about an acronym that many people have never heard about but in certain safety-critical environments, particularly airports, it is an acronym that rings alarm bells.

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on runways and taxiways causes a risk to passenger safety and costs airlines and air forces £millions each year from the damage to aircraft. The most notorious incident was the Paris Concorde accident in 2000 where a piece of metalwork fell of a DC10 upon take-off which minutes later punctured the tyre of the Air France Concorde causing it to crash in a field shortly after take-off. Threats from FOD can consist of anything from metalwork, tools, nuts and bolts, stones and wildlife where early detection of the presence of the item is paramount. In this blog I wish to talk about how Plextek is leading the way to deliver a cost effective and scalable solution which will meet the needs of airports around the world.

The conventional method for detecting FOD still employed by many commercial and military airports involves a periodic visual inspection of the runway either by a vehicle following an aircraft after it takes off or lands or by daily FOD walking exercises where a team walks in a line across the runway detecting and collecting FOD as they go. There are a number of commercially available solutions that are able to detect FOD on a runway but are often very expensive to deploy and have their weaknesses depending on the adopted technology.

 

Our revolutionary Millimetre-Wave Radar is particularly exciting.

In partnership with a South Korean consortium, Plextek has been developing two market-leading radar solutions that provide a cost-effective, scalable platform for countering the FOD threat.

Utilising our expertise in antenna and radar systems design coupled with product design, embedded hardware, software and manufacturing expertise, the Plextek FOD radar solution utilises state of the art materials and mm-wave technology to provide a versatile cost-effective radar capable of detecting, discriminating and alerting the presence of a M5 nut and bolt (2cm object) to sub 10cm resolution at ranges of greater than 400m. When combined with our partner’s EO/IR and FOD detection command and control interface, the radar is capable of alerting the operator of new FOD within 1 minute of the FOD occurring.

So what is Innovative about the Plextek FOD radar solution?

Plextek has developed a common radar platform which can be deployed in either a stationary or mobile configuration.

The stationary radar setup is primarily aimed at high traffic airfield applications like commercial airfields where 24 hour, real-time and continuous surveillance for FOD is paramount to the safety and operational efficiency of the airport. Multiple stationary radar sensors along with EO/IR sensors are installed on towers down the side of the runway. Each stationary radar scans a portion of the runway looking in real-time for changes in the environment.


The mobile radar setup is designed to be installed on the top of a vehicle and driven down the runway between aircraft take-off and landings. The mobile radar sensor replaces the need for the person in the vehicle to detect FOD by visual inspections alone. This radar option is targeted at lower traffic airports like domestic airfields and military airports where there is not a need for 24h constant FOD surveillance or the necessary investment to install a stationary FOD setup.


Both Plextek FOD variants are presently performing extremely well on field trials in South Korea. Plextek is on schedule to start commercial field trials of both radar variants at Incheon International airport in Q1 2019 with both radars entering full operational service by 2020.

For me, it has been a pleasure to project manage such a groundbreaking piece of technology and I am excited to see the radar in operation at Incheon airport in the near future.

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Further Reading

What I Did This Summer

By: Kevin Jones
Senior Consultant, Embedded Systems

22nd August 2018

Home » Micro Radar

The title might lead you to believe this blog is about a holiday to some far away sunny paradise. That post will have to wait for another day; instead, this article is about my recent experiences working with students.

The Next Generation

Plextek has always invested time in energising the next generation of engineers. Each year we employ undergraduate engineering students who join the consultancy for a summer placement that typically lasts twelve weeks. One of this year’s undergraduates worked with Plextek’s software group and I was offered the opportunity to oversee his placement. He was tasked with investigating a novel method to count moving vehicles in real time using audio signals. His work in this project has been successful and is still being used as a technology and capability demonstrator.

Work Experience

This summer Plextek also invited two sixth form students to join us for a work experience week. They spent time with staff from various departments to gain an overview of how the many roles collaborate to form a successful consultancy. This included one day spent with me giving them the opportunity to learn about embedded software and software development processes.

The world has moved on since I was at sixth form so I found myself contemplating the best method to introduce these younger students to my professional world. In the end, I settled on using two identical Arduino development boards, two prototyping boards (“breadboards”), a handful of resistors/LEDs/switches and a couple of laptops.

We started the session discussing the simple inputs and outputs that can be implemented with these basic components then moved on to illuminating LEDs, flashing LEDs and using the switches to control the LEDs. Along the way, we covered coding standards, static analysis tools, documentation tools, integer storage size and how microprocessors represent whole negative numbers.

After lunch, we completed a short consultancy exercise starting from requirements through to implementation, bug fixing, testing, requirements clarification and enhancement proposals. The sixth formers covered a lot of ground in one day and I hope they found at least some of it rewarding!

Professional Development

Yet the undergraduate and the sixth form students weren’t the only people to learn from their placements. Plextek is committed to personal and professional staff development and there were plenty of new skills that I either learned or improved upon too.

From a personal point of view, I learned many new soft-management skills such as leadership, mentorship and communication to a different demographic. From a professional point of view, I hope I passed on plenty of useful tips that will help them flourish in their future careers. I’m rarely in a teaching role and this summer has helped me to better understand and appreciate the great work undertaken by all teachers preparing young adults for their future careers. Who knows; maybe some of the summer placement students might opt for the same path I chose and become a chartered engineer.

Kevin joined Plextek in 2008 and first worked on 3G telecommunications projects. He is a Chartered Engineer and is a member of the Institute of Engineering Technology. His recent projects include AIMS (the embedded software and the Android application) and a variety of high volume, low-cost consumer devices.

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The title might lead you to believe this blog is about a holiday to some far away sunny paradise. That post will have to wait for another day; instead, this article is about my recent experiences working with students.

The Next Generation

Plextek has always invested time in energising the next generation of engineers. Each year we employ undergraduate engineering students who join the consultancy for a summer placement that typically lasts twelve weeks. One of this year’s undergraduates worked with Plextek’s software group and I was offered the opportunity to oversee his placement. He was tasked with investigating a novel method to count moving vehicles in real time using audio signals. His work in this project has been successful and is still being used as a technology and capability demonstrator.

Work Experience

This summer Plextek also invited two sixth form students to join us for a work experience week. They spent time with staff from various departments to gain an overview of how the many roles collaborate to form a successful consultancy. This included one day spent with me giving them the opportunity to learn about embedded software and software development processes.

The world has moved on since I was at sixth form so I found myself contemplating the best method to introduce these younger students to my professional world. In the end, I settled on using two identical Arduino development boards, two prototyping boards (“breadboards”), a handful of resistors/LEDs/switches and a couple of laptops.

We started the session discussing the simple inputs and outputs that can be implemented with these basic components then moved on to illuminating LEDs, flashing LEDs and using the switches to control the LEDs. Along the way, we covered coding standards, static analysis tools, documentation tools, integer storage size and how microprocessors represent whole negative numbers.

After lunch, we completed a short consultancy exercise starting from requirements through to implementation, bug fixing, testing, requirements clarification and enhancement proposals. The sixth formers covered a lot of ground in one day and I hope they found at least some of it rewarding!

Professional Development

Yet the undergraduate and the sixth form students weren’t the only people to learn from their placements. Plextek is committed to personal and professional staff development and there were plenty of new skills that I either learned or improved upon too.

From a personal point of view, I learned many new soft-management skills such as leadership, mentorship and communication to a different demographic. From a professional point of view, I hope I passed on plenty of useful tips that will help them flourish in their future careers. I’m rarely in a teaching role and this summer has helped me to better understand and appreciate the great work undertaken by all teachers preparing young adults for their future careers. Who knows; maybe some of the summer placement students might opt for the same path I chose and become a chartered engineer.

Kevin joined Plextek in 2008 and first worked on 3G telecommunications projects. He is a Chartered Engineer and is a member of the Institute of Engineering Technology. His recent projects include AIMS (the embedded software and the Android application) and a variety of high volume, low-cost consumer devices.

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Further Reading

micro-radar

Vlog: Micro Radar for Unmanned Aerial Systems

Peter Doig

By: Peter Doig
Business Manager, Defence

21st May 2018

Home » Micro Radar

For a number of years now, we’ve been researching the uses of high-frequency mm-wave micro-radar for a number of different applications.

In 2017, we were awarded funding in DSTL’s newly formed Defence and Security Accelerator competition, in which we were able to develop our micro radar system further to enable an Unmanned Air System (UAS) to autonomously provide resupply of equipment from up to 30 km away.

Peter discusses how the technology has developed over the years, our progress within the program and the capability the technology brings.

Transcript

So Plextek have been researching and developing millimetre-wave 60 gigahertz micro-radar technology for the past four years predominantly working with DSTL, starting under their autonomous systems underpinning research program where we developed a radar testbed to prove the utility of the radar to enable small drones to operate in complex urban environments.

This enabled Plextek to then design and build a low-cost compact micro-radar prototype which could be included within the autonomous last-mile resupply program. So under DSTL’s autonomous last mile resupply program, a defence and security accelerator competition, we wanted to assess the performance of the micro-radar mounted on a drone so we undertook a number of trials to measure the performance of the radar against a range of terrain types and objects, including trees, hedges, powerlines and buildings and vehicles.

We successfully demonstrated the ability of the radar to detect powerlines out to 60 metres and vehicles out to 300 metres.

Moving forward, we are keen to work with partners either who are providing a UAV or an unmanned ground vehicle to optimise the radar and its various parameters for the chosen platform and then advance the radar processing to successfully demonstrate the various concept of operations that are required, for example the autonomous sense and avoid, or possibly the need and desire for accurate landing capability where we would look to link the radar with a passive radar retroreflector which could act as a beacon for the solider with regards to his resupply requirement.

However, ultimately there are lots of exciting exploitation opportunities for the radar into different defence requirements and we’re really excited about listening to those requirements from people and working with them to meet it.

For a number of years now, we’ve been researching the uses of high-frequency mm-wave micro-radar for a number of different applications.

In 2017, we were awarded funding by DSTL’s newly formed Defence and Security Accelerator competition, in which we were able to develop our micro radar system further to enable an Unmanned Air System (UAS) to autonomously provide resupply of equipment from up to 30 km away.

Peter discusses how the technology has developed over the years, our progress within the program and the capability the technology brings.

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Transcript

So Plextek have been researching and developing millimetre-wave 60 gigahertz micro-radar technology for the past four years predominantly working with DSTL, starting under their autonomous systems underpinning research program where we developed a radar testbed to prove the utility of the radar to enable small drones to operate in complex urban environments.

This enabled Plextek to then design and build a low-cost compact micro-radar prototype which could be included within the autonomous last-mile resupply program. So under DSTL’s autonomous last mile resupply program, a defence and security accelerator competition, we wanted to assess the performance of the micro-radar mounted on a drone so we undertook a number of trials to measure the performance of the radar against a range of terrain types and objects, including trees, hedges, powerlines and buildings and vehicles.

We successfully demonstrated the ability of the radar to detect powerlines out to 60 metres and vehicles out to 300 metres.

Moving forward, we are keen to work with partners either who are providing a UAV or an unmanned ground vehicle to optimise the radar and its various parameters for the chosen platform and then advance the radar processing to successfully demonstrate the various concept of operations that are required, for example the autonomous sense and avoid, or possibly the need and desire for accurate landing capability where we would look to link the radar with a passive radar retroreflector which could act as a beacon for the solider with regards to his resupply requirement.

However, ultimately there are lots of exciting exploitation opportunities for the radar into different defence requirements and we’re really excited about listening to those requirements from people and working with them to meet it.

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Further Reading