A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) sensor is required to provide information that will allow the user to detect, classify and identify the target. This is an extremely tough requirement, especially when one considers the limited amount of information provided by most GPRs to accomplish this task. One way of increasing this information is to capture the complete scattering matrix of the received radar waveform. The objective of this thesis is to develop a signal processing technique to extract polarimetric feature vectors from Stepped Frequency Continuous Wave (SFCW) GPR data. This was achieved by first developing an algorithm to extract the parameters from single polarization SFCW GPR data and then extending this algorithm to extract target features from fully polarimetic data.
A model is required to enable the extraction of target parameters from raw radar data. A single polarization SFCW GPR model is developed based on the radar geometry and linear approximations to the wavenumber in a lossy medium. Assuming high operating frequencies and/or low conductive losses, the model is shown to be equivalent to the exponential model found in signal processing theory. A number of algorithms exist to extract the required target parameters from the measured data in a least squared sense. In this thesis, the Matrix Pencil-of-Function Method is used. Numerical simulations are presented to show the performance of this algorithm for increasing model error. Simulations are also provided to compare the standard Inverse Discrete Fourier Transform (IDFT) with the algorithm presented in this thesis. The processing is applied to two sets of measured radar data using the radar developed in the thesis. The technique was able to locate the position of the scatterers for both sets of data, thus demonstrating the success of the algorithm on practical measurements.
The single polarization model is extended to a fully polarimetric SFCW GPR model. The model is shown to relate to the multi-dimensional exponential signal proecssing model, given certain assumptions about the target scattering damping factor. The multi-snapshot Matrix Pencil-of-Function Method is used to extract the scattering martix parameters from the raw polarimetric stepped frequency data. Those Huynen target parameters that are independent of the properties of the medium, are extracted from the estimated scattering matrices. Simulations are performed to examine the performance of the algorithm for increasing conductive and dielectric losses. The algorithm is also applied to measured data for a number of targets buried a few centimetres below the ground surface, with promising results.
Finally, the thesis describes the design and development of a low cost, compact and low power SFCW GPR system. It addresses both the philosophy as well as the technology that was used to develop a 200-1600 MHz and a 1-2 GHz system. The system is built around a dual synthesizer heterodyne architecture with a single intermediate frequency stage and a novel coherent demodulator system – with a single reference source. Comparison of the radar system with a commercial impulse system shows that the results are of a similar quality. Further measurements demonstrate the radar performance for different field test cases, including the mapping of the bottom of an outdoor testsite down to 1.6m.