Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR APPLIED SCIENCE 52 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 Superman was only able to see through walls in stories. Now new research suggests it may be possible to image the content of a room using coordinated drones equipped with WiFi signals. by Charles Q. Choi Photos courtesy of UCSB. D rones increasingly are helping people examine the world from expansive, new perspectives. Now researchers suggest that in the future, drones equipped with WiFi, could enable them to peer through walls and image objects on the other side in 3-D. The new technique, which uses two or more drones working in tandem, could have a variety of applications, such as surveillance, emergency search and rescue, structural moni- toring and archaeological discovery. WiFi transmits data using radio waves. In 2010, Yasamin Mostofi, a professor of electri- cal and computer engineering at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and her col- leagues found they could use WiFi signals to image objects through walls. In robotics, "mapping objects in direct sight is critical for navigation," Mostofi said. "When I started looking at robotics problems many years ago, I was curious if we could use wire- less signals to enable sensing that is not just limited to direct sight." Scientists have long used radio waves and other wavelengths of light, such as X-rays and infrared rays, to help them peer within objects. While high-frequency wavelengths can help lead to high-resolution images, their signals are more easily attenuated "and will not make it through walls," Mostofi said. On the other hand, low-frequency wavelengths can make it through walls and decay more slowly with distance, "but will result in a lower resolution," she added. "Waves at frequencies similar to WiFi can still make it through walls, and the resulting resolution can work for several applications," Mostofi said. "In addition, one main motiva- tion for us to use WiFi signals is the fact that (WiFi) is so ubiquitous." USING DRONES TO SEE THROUGH WALLS TX–UAS RX–UAS

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