Synthetic aperture acoustic (SAA) imaging is a technique for remotely obtaining information about the location, geometry, and mechanical properties of objects based on the way they scatter incident acoustic energy. Results are presented for an experimental investigation of the use of SAA imaging to detect non-metallic cords of different sizes laid in various configurations on the ground surface in an outdoor urban environment. Interest in this application of SAA stems from the fact that non-metallic cords are not readily detectable with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and that the SAA imaging approach represents a relatively inexpensive alternative or supplement to SAR. The measurement system is comprised of a mobile acoustic transceiver (a speaker and microphone) that broadcasts a burst chirp with a bandwidth of 2–15 kHz. The recorded signal is used to form a two-dimensional image of the distribution of acoustic scatterers within the scene. For this study, five different diameters (2–15mm) of nylon cord laid on the ground were imaged in different configurations. These measurements were made in the presence of urban ambient noise of varying levels. The goal of this study was to identify the effect of environmental noise and other parameters on detectability. The results demonstrate that non-metallic cords can be detected acoustically if the angle to the transceiver path is sufficiently small.

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