Engineering professor receives DARPA grant for research on radar signal processing
LAWRENCE — A faculty member in the University of Kansas Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science recently received a prestigious grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to research more effective ways of using the radar spectrum.
The two-year, $500,000 grant was awarded to Patrick McCormick, who holds a joint appointment as assistant professor in the EECS department and as assistant scientist at the KU Institute for Information Sciences (I2S).
The electromagnetic spectrum is a highly desired resource for wireless radio frequency technologies, and the traditional means for allocation of users is becoming increasingly impracticable in recent years. McCormick’s research largely focuses on radar signal processing, specifically the problem of spectral congestion. The term “spectral congestion” would seem to imply that the spectrum is full, but according to McCormick, it is “highly underutilized,” and we aren’t using it efficiently.
“The electromagnetic spectrum on average is largely vacant of signals, which has prompted the U.S. government to promote sharing of the spectrum to bolster the economy via spectral auctions. This trend will no doubt continue. Therefore, unintended spectral interference will be commonplace for both radar and communication systems in the future,” McCormick said.
Promoting the sharing of spectrum will improve spectral usage but will likely result in competing signals interfering with one another, thus decreasing the efficiency of the usage. According to McCormick, the solution to this problem lies in the design of the signal processing.
“We’re going to have to be a lot more robust in how we design our processing. Our radar signal processing methods today are largely built upon the assumption of an interference-free environment,” McCormick said.
McCormick’s research explores designing signal processing algorithms that limit signal interference.
“I’m proposing a framework that allows radar to operate within a certain band, monitor the band and separate out the desired signals from the ones I don’t care about,” McCormick said.
Designing robust signal processing techniques enables the sharing of spectral bands while mitigating the issue of unintended interference.
“I hope the results from this project will be a seed for a research portfolio that continues to expand in the future,” McCormick said.