Method of Localization via Ground Penetrating Radar

Technology #15917

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FIG. 1A illustrates a vehicle traveling within a road network according to a predetermined trip path.  FIG. 1B shows a side view of the vehicle of FIG. 1A.FIG. 2 is a flowchart representation of an embodiment of a method for localization of a vehicle in accordance with the invention.FIG. 3 graphically depicts the movement of a GPR antenna array along a vehicle track relative to an underground region for which previously acquired GPR image data are available. FIG. 5 shows an example of a slice of a SPR image acquired during travel along a segment of a vehicle track.FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a navigation system used for autonomous operation of a vehicle according to the invention.FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration depicting in more detail the processing performed by the radar processor and registration module of FIG. 4.
Jeff Koechling
Lincoln Laboratory
Matthew Cornick
Lincoln Laboratory
Charles Coldwell
Lincoln Laboratory
Beijia Zhang
Lincoln Laboratory
Byron Stanley
Lincoln Laboratory
Managed By
Jack Turner
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Vehicle Localization using Surface Penetrating Radar

US Patent 8,949,024
Localizing Ground Penetrating RADAR: A Step Toward Robust Autonomous Ground Vehicle Localization
Journal of Field Robotics, 27 MAY 2015


This technology provides the ability for a self-driving automobile to stay in its lane even in cases where traditional optical approaches don't work.

Problem Addressed

Traditional sensing approaches for map-based localization are not robust to common real-world conditions especially when visible features are obscured by leaves, snow, smoke or heavy rain. Therefore, there is a need to provide a robust vehicle localization method by augmenting current sensors.


The invention features a system for determining location data for a vehicle, using surface penetrating radar (SPR). The SPR images of a subsurface region are acquired along a vehicle track. Then, the images are compared to previous SPR images from another subsurface region that at least partially overlaps. Finally, the location data for the vehicle is determined based on the comparison.


  • Can operate in poor conditions, unlike current localization methods
  • The technology is not limited to ground based applications