Downsides of active antenna arrays with combined transmit (TX) and receive (RX) elements are the costly high-power and cooling infrastructure, and the provisioning needed at an antenna location. Existing active array designs require higher maintenance, experience increased failure rates (due to, among other things, heat generated by transmit amplifiers), and are undesirable particularly in remote locations where maintenance is not easily performed. This includes mast and tower locations which increase hazards to maintenance personnel.
To address these concerns, Navy researchers have developed a hybrid active array that enables remotely located transmitter components to pump a transmit signal up to a radiating location through a beam forming network (BFN). Thus, cooling and high-power supply system provisioning are located on the ground or in a control room, away from the TX/RX array. With the remote TX components feeding the BFN, an amplitude distribution of the antenna aperture is set to control the TX/RX sidelobes. Reducing antenna sidelobes during transmit operations reduces radiation outside of a main beam, further reducing signal returns in the sidelobes and providing noise lowering capability not achieved in existing active arrays. Applications for this technology include radar display control systems for managing self-driving cars, or automated equipment control systems using radar signal inputs.
- Reduced complexity and design costs of an array, including the antenna design itself
- Cooling and high-power supply system maintenance is reduced
- Improved noise reduction (from reducing sidelobes)
- Design reduces need for high-voltage and current
- US patent 9,742,075 available for license
- Potential for collaboration with Navy researchers