5 October 2017 Experimental evaluation of penetration capabilities of a Geiger-mode APD array laser radar system
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Laser radar 3D imaging has the potential to improve target recognition in many scenarios. One case that is challenging for most optical sensors is to recognize targets hidden in vegetation or behind camouflage. The range resolution of timeof- flight 3D sensors allows segmentation of obscuration and target if the surfaces are separated far enough so that they can be resolved as two distances. Systems based on time-correlated single-photon counting (TCSPC) have the potential to resolve surfaces closer to each other compared to laser radar systems based on proportional mode detection technologies and is therefore especially interesting. Photon counting detection is commonly performed with Geigermode Avalanche Photodiodes (GmAPD) that have the disadvantage that they can only detect one photon per laser pulse per pixel. A strong return from an obscuring object may saturate the detector and thus limit the possibility to detect the hidden target even if photons from the target reach the detector. The operational range where good foliage penetration is observed is therefore relatively narrow for GmAPD systems. In this paper we investigate the penetration capability through semi-transparent surfaces for a laser radar with a 128×32 pixel GmAPD array and a 1542 nm wavelength laser operating at a pulse repetition frequency of 90 kHz. In the evaluation a screen was placed behind different canvases with varying transmissions and the detected signals from the surfaces for different laser intensities were measured. The maximum return from the second surface occurs when the total detection probability is around 0.65-0.75 per pulse. At higher laser excitation power the signal from the second surface decreases. To optimize the foliage penetration capability it is thus necessary to adaptively control the laser power to keep the returned signal within this region. In addition to the experimental results, simulations to study the influence of the pulse energy on penetration through foliage in a scene with targets behind vegetation are presented. The optimum detection of targets occurs here at a slightly higher total photon count rate probability because a number of pixel have no obscuration in front the target in their field of view.
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Per Jonsson, Michael Tulldahl, Julia Hedborg, Markus Henriksson, Lars Sjöqvist, "Experimental evaluation of penetration capabilities of a Geiger-mode APD array laser radar system", Proc. SPIE 10434, Electro-Optical Remote Sensing XI, 1043405 (5 October 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2278443; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2278443

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