When thinking of radar, the first thing that comes to many people’s minds is often weather radar, aircraft radar, or law enforcement speed checking radar. These are all popular and important uses of sensing technology.
But, radar technology has advanced and changed a great deal in recent decades. Modern radar systems are smaller, more affordable, more flexible, and more powerful than ever before—unlocking a wide range of new applications for radar systems that could not have been imagined years ago.
A while ago, we shared Eight Unexpected Uses of Radar and were overwhelmed by the response from our customers and readers. We decided to follow up that original post with “Eight More Unexpected Uses of Radar.”
1. People Counting
Retailers, entertainment venues, and tourism destinations are increasingly incorporating people counting technologies into their properties. Doing so enables them to better understand how many people are moving through their establishments, when, and even which sections of merchandise are most popular. Many people counting systems on the market today raise privacy concerns because they utilize either Wi-Fi technology or optical technologies, either of which can be used to identify and follow a specific individual. Radar sensor-based people counting systems, on the other hand, provide the ability to count people, their locations, and their movements, but without the potential concerns related to privacy of collecting personally identifying information.
2. Train Detection in Tunnels
There are more than 140,000 miles of railroads in the United States, along which moves more than 10% of the country’s freight tonnage each year. Railroad tunnels are common in areas with hilly, mountainous, or otherwise rough terrain. Similarly, urban transit networks around the world make extensive use of underground tunnels for their trains. These same tunnels present potential hazards for maintenance and repair crews and can also accelerate wear and tear in equipment and infrastructure. Radar sensors, like the ones designed by Ainstein, can be used to detect and monitor presence of trains in tunnels, assisting in improving safety and longevity of train tunnel infrastructure.
3. Natural Resources Management
Forest and rangeland managers around the world are facing an increasingly difficult job: vast geographical areas that need to be monitored and managed, with increasingly tight budgets leading to staff shortages. Using drones, organizations charged with managing and protecting endangered and threatened wildlife can track the locations and movements of individuals or groups of animals. These same organizations can also monitor the health of plant species, rangeland, and forests in the areas they are charged with protecting. Smart radar sensors can be customized and fitted to drones or other small aircraft to support the missions of wildland management agencies facing tight budgets in an efficient manner.
4. Vital Sign Detection Inside Vehicles
Each year there are heartbreaking stories of pets or children who are accidentally left locked inside vehicles and perish as a result. A number of different technology solutions have been proposed to fight this problem. Did you know that radar sensors can be used to solve this problem?
Radar sensors have been shown to be capable of being used for heartbeat detection and monitoring. Using this principle, radar sensors can be integrated into vehicles and connected to an alert system to detect if, for example, a vehicle is turned off but heartbeats are detected inside the vehicle. An alert could be sent to the vehicle owner’s mobile phone to remind them that their pet is still in the car.
5. Social Distancing Monitoring
This application is similar to that of people counting, but it is distinct enough in some important ways that it merits its own discussion. With businesses cautiously beginning to reopen as countries around the world have eased COVID-related shutdowns, social distancing recommendations remain an important pillar of health authorities’ recommendations for safe operation.
Many people continue to be nervous about the prospect of travel and, for example, staying in hotels. As described, radar systems can be used for people counting; an additional layer of analytics can be applied on top of people counting data gathered from radar systems, to quantify how well people are following social distancing recommendations.
Armed with this data, hotel owners, entertainment venues, restaurants, and others can help to give data-driven peace of mind to their customers, when paired with other precautions.
6. Port safety
More than two billion total tons of goods sold in the US pass through a seaport at some point in their journeys from factory to consumer. Seaports are busy places filled with moving vehicles, moving cranes, moving shipping containers, people, buildings, and other infrastructure. These all become potential safety issues for the workers who are moving about the seaports as they help to process, load, unload, and move goods. Radar systems can be used to help detect large, moving objects and provide a warning – or even stop a moving piece of equipment – if they inadvertently come too close to people.
7. Warehouse and Factory Safety
Similar to seaports, warehouses, factories and other industrial plants are filled with heavy, noisy, moving equipment.
The United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) registered more than 130 worker fatalities related to forklifts since 2017. Forklifts are one of the most common tools of the trade in warehouse and factory operations, but as the OSHA statistics highlight – and as anyone who has ever worked in one of the environments knows – they can also pose grave risks of injury or death to workers.
Radar systems can be used in these environments to provide warnings or even stop forklift operation when a hazardous situation is detected by the radar — a person is too close, the forklift is too close to the edge of a dropoff (a loading bay, for example), the forklift is too close to a wall, and more.
Robotic equipment – ranging from robotic arms, to mobile robots that shuttle components or finished goods from one place to another – is commonplace in industrial settings across the United States and the world. To ensure proper and safe operation of robotic equipment, operators and programmers need confidence of the precise location and movement through space of their equipment. Radar sensors can provide this necessary location and movement data, critical for proper operation of robotics in industrial settings.
Ainstein AI Inc. designs the world’s most advanced and compact civilian radar sensor modules. Do you have a custom sensing application in mind that you’d like to discuss with our team? You can connect with us by filling out this form, and a team member will be in contact with you shortly.