Acoustic Vector Sensing For Traffic Awareness


An associate professor and graduate students at the University of Kansas (KU) have “perfected” a traffic sensing system that does not rely on other aircraft having an active counterpart and may be available for under $10,000, according to a news release from the University of Kansas. The release does not state that the system has been flown, but that it has been tested “in small scale” and “with a ground setup.” In those tests, it tracked vehicles that ranged in size “from a full-size helicopter to a model plane, with accuracy of within less than 1 meter.” That accuracy held true at distances of more than six miles (10 km), according to KU. The system is based on acoustic vector sensing, which has long been used in underwater applications. Ron Barrett-Gonzalez, associate professor of aerospace engineering at KU, along with graduate students adapted the technology for the flight environment after a Dutch company, MicroFlown Technologies, failed to do so, the release says. In the KU system, information from sensors is fed to a cockpit display “to provide pilots with accurate alerts” and “urge evasive maneuvers,” for collision avoidance.

MicroFlown Technologies developed micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) that used acoustic vector sensors to cover the entire audio range and is working to develop systems to source the acoustic location of hostile mortars, missiles and the like to protect ground troops. By using four such sensors, MicroFlown said it could localize and track up to 30 sound sources. Each source can be tracked in bearing and elevation. KU’s adaptation of the technology for airborne use now has in process an application for a patent on its system.