Radar operators hate heavy rain and high winds. It's the kind of weather that messes up their signal. "Old technology would pick up what are called false alarms. And basically you cry wolf enough and your radar guy, your security guy, is going to turn that off because you're responding to so many false alarms," says Tom Gates, the Director for Corporate Communications at Huntsville's Dynetics.
Obviously a radar providing security for a military base, or an airport can't be providing false alarms. It would be putting lives in danger. "Well, they can't believe it. They think it's magic," says Mike Stokes, the Product Manager For Dynetics' GroundAware radar. He's talking about what customers say when they see GroundAware in action.
The radar is still undergoing environmental tests. Though the project people at Dynetics will tell you, it is an all-weather radar. GroundAware will function in temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero, and as high as 160 degrees above. It uses the same power as a 75 watt light bulb, and at 44 pounds can easily be moved by one person.
The radar is designed to provide security by detecting things as they approach the particular facility. "We can detect them in real-time, a movement that is taking place. But those targets we detect, we can actually classify those as human, animal, vehicle or aircraft, and then instantaneously communicate that back to whoever," says Tom Gates.
Dynetics officials say the radar will watch an area of about four square miles. The system is essentially the radar unit, and a lap top, PC or phone for the operator. "If you've used Google maps on your phone or iPad, you could use this system," says Mike Stokes.
Dynetics believe their new radar brings cutting-edge technology to the table. It's better than the current camera or human systems, but it can also work with them. "It's a disruptor," says Mike Stokes.
Dynetics has some 20 orders in-house for the GroundAware radar, and they expect more. The units will be built at the Dynetics Solutions campus using local parts. In addition, five Huntsville area companies are sub contractors for the project.