Startup Echodyne Puts Metamaterials-based Radars to the Test
With the launch of a $135 million funding round, Echodyne is tackling the radar market with defense, security, and autonomy in mind.
Echodyne, a U.S.-based radar technology provider, recently announced the commencement of a $135 million fundraising round to ramp up production. The company offers a wide range of radar technologies for defense, security, and autonomous applications.
EchoGuard radar at Anduril Sentry Tower for border security.
This article highlights the company in light of the different radar solutions and technologies it offers.
Security at the Heart of Echodyne
Echodyne, based in Kirkland, Washington, is a radar platform company that designs and develops solid-state radars. The company leverages its patented metamaterials electronically scanned array (ESA) technology to deliver high-performance radars for a range of applications, including autonomy, machine perception, security, and defense.
Echodyne holds patents for several inventions said to aid the design and manufacture of ESA radars in low SWaP (i.e., size, weight, and power consumption) formats, combining them with advanced software.
Highlights of Echodyne’s Radar Technology
Echodyne's patented MESA technology is said to lower the SWaP of the company's ESA radar capabilities. Some of Echodyne's core technologies include EchoGuard, EchoGuard CR, EchoFlight, and EchoDrive.
EchoGuard is designed to cue EO/IR (or other directional sensors) for various applications, including AI- or human-based object identification and mitigation responses. Echodyne says EchoGuard leverages easy-to-use APIs, multiple data output options, and flexible embedded software to offer high-precision 3D coordinates and ultra-fast update rates.
Some highlights of this technology include:
- Frequency range: 24.45–24.65 GHz
- Field of view (FOV): 120° azimuth x 80° elevation
- Angular resolution: 2° azimuth x 6° elevation
- Up to 20 simultaneous tracks
- Parallel track update at 10 Hz during intelligent FOV searches
EchoGuard CR radar deployed for urban airspace situational awareness demonstration.
Although the EchoGuard CR technology offers the same capabilities as EchoGuard, it does so at lower power and higher tracking accuracy for densely-populated areas at close range.
EchoFlight, on the other hand, offers airborne radar functionalities—specifically to detect and avoid threats on unmanned aircraft. With data outputs of 40 MB/s for R/Vmaps, 1 MB/s for detections, 1 MB/s for measurements, and 25 KB/s for tracks, the technology delivers compact ESA radar performance for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) mission safety.
Built for radar imaging in autonomous vehicles, EchoDrive also features a number of notable specs:
- Frequency range: 77.0–81.0 GHz
- Field of view: 120° azimuth x 20° elevation
- Angular resolution: ±0.4° azimuth x ±1.5° elevation
- Velocity resolution: <0.2 m/sec
- Update rate: 1,000–250,000 pixels/sec
Echodyne Eyes Defense, Security, and Autonomy
Echodyne recently announced a $135 million fundraising round—led by Baillie Gifford and Bill Gates—to expand its radar technology. Echodyne provides its radars to several significant players in the defense space, including the U.S. Army’s Security Surveillance System (SSS), Northrop Grumman Corporation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Echodyne radar systems are useful for securing bases, borders, unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, counter unmanned aircraft systems, portable ISR, and radar subsystems. The company's EchoGuard technology leverages a 10 Hz track update rate and a large field of view to detect, track, and classify all airspace objects, allowing it to counter UAS at high accuracies. Additionally, EchoGuard technology offers low SWaP, built-in interference mitigation, and extensive software-defined masking.
The company offers 3D surveillance radar technology that mitigates unauthorized land, air, and sea border crossings that can threaten national security. EchoFlight and EchoDrive technologies are designed to defend homeland security in unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned ground vehicles, respectively.
Pictured is an EchoDrive radar embedded into a sensor array for autonomous vehicle testing.
Echodyne also offers a number of technologies for critical infrastructure and urban environmental protection. Some of these applications extend to counter-drone defense, law enforcement, fire control, and search and rescue (SAR).
Echodyne claims to improve tracking ranges with leading VMS and pan-tilt-zoom cameras. Together, these technologies can safeguard critical infrastructure, eliminate threats from enemy drones, and ensure high-accuracy security of dense urban areas.
Echodyne also says its radar technologies can help smart cities, vehicles, airspace management, and unmanned aerial vehicles to achieve autonomy. In particular, its ESA radars are rated best in class for autonomous machines navigating outdoor environments.
In conventional ESA radars, the size, weight, power, and cost of the devices makes them inaccessible to machine perception developers. With the metamaterial ESA (MESA) radar technology from Echodyne, however, developers can more easily bring autonomous flying and driving machines to smart city applications.
The Role of Metamaterials in ESA
Electronically scanned array (ESA) technology surpasses the conventional mechanically scanned antenna (MSA) radars by efficiently overcoming the inertia-based challenges in the latter. ESA technology includes several radiating elements, enabling beam steering by controlling the phase shift of each element. This technology was essential for many radar applications until the introduction of the metamaterials electronically scanned array (MESA) technology by Echodyne.
Echodyne's metamaterials electronically scanned array (MESA) technology.
Although Echodyne leveraged standard PCB fabrication and assembly techniques for its MESA radars, the company says its technology offers size, power, weight, and cost benefits over conventional ESA radars.
All images used courtesy of Echodyne.