Design of a Radar System to Count Bat Population


MITRE Team: Wish Sahu, MacKenzie Ferguson, Yamin Tun

2013-2014: In collaboration with the MITRE Corporation, this team designed a radar and signal processing system to determine the population of bat colonies accurately and precisely. Bats are considered an indicator species, meaning that the biodiversity and health of an ecosystem can be estimated by the health and size of the bat population in the vicinity. Commercial agriculture gains massive benefit from bats as well because many bat species rely primarily on insects for their diet.

Determining bat population is a complicated process because bats are small and they appear primarily when visibility is low. To address this problem, the team designed a radar detection system to count bats as they leave their den in the evening. The team first built the requisite background in radar system design by studying the relevant mathematical relationships among different radar and target parameters. They developed requirements for the signal processing needed, including pulse compression and Doppler processing. The team then developed and refined a radar design using a Blake Chart and then tested the final design with synthetic data. To conduct these tests they started with MATLAB code provided by MITRE and modified the code for the specific application.

The team provided their conceptual radar system design and modified MATLAB code to MITRE for further development.