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Echodyne unveils radar that’s dandy for drones

Image: Echodyne radar
Echodyne’s MESA-K-DEV radar, shown here in comparison with the size of a smartphone, is designed for use in a wide variety of applications, including drone guidance systems and security systems. (Credit: Echodyne)

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Radar and aircraft go together like hand and glove, but what do you do when the aircraft is a commercial drone that weighs less than a fully loaded suitcase? Bellevue-based Echodyne is taking the wraps off a radar system that’s just a step up from smartphone size but provides advanced capabilities for drones and autonomous vehicles.

Echodyne’s technology is known as Metamaterials Electronically Scanning Array, or MESA. It takes advantage of beam-directing metamaterials to perform radar scanning without moving parts, and without the complicated electronics that phased-array systems require. The system’s small size and big capability hit the sweet spot for small unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, which could soon be used for package deliveries.

“No radar has existed that anyone could think of to put on a small UAV,” Eben Frankenberg, Echodyne’s founder and CEO, told GeekWire. “That’s where we’re super-excited to come into play.”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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