NavComHow US Radar leverages partnerships and disruptive technologies to increase the accuracy of base station-free mapping

US Radar is a leading innovator and distributor of ground-penetrating radar (GPR), systems. If you need to see what is on the other side of a surface, the high-profile Triple Bandwidth GPRover Mapping System can safely help you define what you can’t see with the bare eye.


Photo: NavCom

US Radar was formed in 1994 as the GPR technology commercial market introduction partner to a UK company that utilized high resolution GPR technology to locate plastic landmines. Since then, US Radar has developed numerous product and software innovations.

GPRover, which leverages NavCom’s Onyx GNSS OEM Board with Integrated StarFire/RTK, integrates advanced subsurface imaging technology, high accuracy GPS and mapping capability.

NavCom met with US Radar President Ron LaBarca to discuss his approach to developing GPRover, integrating triple-bandwidth GPR with GNSS and working with Onyx and StarFire.

How is GPRover different from (or more advanced than) your other ground-penetrating radar products?

Ron LaBarca: The GPRover is the culmination of a lot of R&D and field study — a perfect storm of the most advanced radar subsurface imaging system, our triple bandwidth Quantum Imager. Then we added on-board point file creation with the ability to view progress with cached or live kmz files and the ability to export as a number of file extensions into nearly any available mapping software.

Next with our partnership with NavCom, we integrated a highly accurate GPS with seamless corrections worldwide. Finally, we made this system easy to start up and operate, no network configurations and cell connections — identify targets, tap the screen, save the point, export that point file… done!

Video: NavCom

What role does GNSS play in GPRover?

RL: Bottom line — with GNSS, the more data the better.

How is the triple-bandwidth GPR integrated with GNSS?

RL: The triple-bandwidth GPR receives the NMEA string much as a data collector. From there, lats and longs are displayed, as well as GPS parameters and statistics. As the operator images the area, when potential targets are identified in the image, the operator can simply double-tap the screen to open a dialog box.

Within the dialog box, a number of attributes including x, y and z coordinates, point ID, description, symbols and actual depth from surface for example are recorded and saved as a point file. This point file can then be exported as any one of a number of different file extensions.

Can you describe how — and to what advantage — GPRover can be integrated with high-end RTK and GIS units?

RL: The GPRover can integrate with higher-end GPS systems if accuracy higher than +/- 5cm (2 inches) is desired. It’s a simple link-up in our on-board utility. Choose external GPS and the unit will connect via Bluetooth or rs232.


Photo: NavCom

What advantage does the StarFire System add to just a plain old GNSS?

RL: The advantage that StarFire offers is the ability to receive network corrections to increase accuracy dramatically. In addition, the StarFire network gave us a great platform to have our firmware and software team to create a system that can initialize at system activation. There’s no fussing with cell modems and network connections and control points.


Photo: NavCom

What made you select NavCom’s Onyx board for integration into your new product?

RL: We singled out the Onyx board because once it was integrated with our system we could ultimately give the end-user a high accuracy solution with amazing coverage and little-to-no initialization grief.

How was your level of support during the integration process?

RL: The level of support was great. We had a dedicated engineer working with our team.

What do your customers demand?

RL: Our customers demand ease of use and loads of “icing on the cake” capabilities — such as 3-D processing and on-board mapping.

Tell us a little bit about the history of US Radar.

RL: US Radar was formed as a partnership with a UK company that had developed this take on technology with high-resolution requirements to locate plastic land mines and IEDs. We had a background in the development of guidance instrumentation for tunneling machines. It was apparent there were a number of applications for this technology beyond military and humanitarian, so we were contacted by the original developers to consult on potential commercial applications.

With this high-resolution approach to the technology, it was immediately obvious that infrastructure, archaeology, law enforcement and environmental professions had a lot to gain.

Our first task was to build a system that could be used to locate pipelines and utilities.

How have you seen the industry change over the years?

RL: Some of the earliest systems that were marketed commercially were very limited in their resolution. As a result they were marketed more specifically for geophysical applications.

When we arrived on the scene with a higher-resolution approach, it was “game on.” Since then, there have been a lot of developments geared toward the professions benefiting from this technology. User friendliness is one of the most significant strides taken. Even more significant is the ability to perform a great number of complimentary capabilities on-board, such as gain enhancements, WiFi connection, remarkable processing algorithms and integration with ancillaries like GPS.

NavCom’s StarFire Network is a global satellite-based augmentation system (GSBAS) that provides real-time accuracy, typically better than 5 centimeters. To accomplish this, StarFire utilizes a network of GNSS reference stations around the world to compute GNSS satellite orbit and clock corrections. The precise point positioning (PPP) service requires no base station, saving users time and hardware costs.

End-users can achieve even better accuracy with NavCom’s StarFire Network by integrating the company’s Onyx GNSS OEM board. Onyx, a multi-constellation OEM board, has three separate channels for StarFire signal processing.

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This page was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with NavCom. NCM Content Marketing connects marketers to audiences and delivers industry trends, business tips and product information. The GPS World editorial staff did not create this content.

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