Oil, water, and ice detection on road surfaces with a millimeter-wave radiometer
Paper in proceedings, 2020
Passive radiometers are well-known instruments used in the characterization of soil, sea surfaces and remote sensing of the earth atmosphere with satellites or airplanes. The instrument described in this article is a dual-polarised superheterodyne radiometer operating around 93 GHz. It is placed on a structure to measure road surface conditions (ice, water or oil) in a laboratory-controlled environment. This radiometer measures the reflected and emitted radiations from the road surface (asphalt and concrete) and the background temperature, in two orthogonal polarizations (H and V). The difference in the dielectric properties of the ice, oil and water from dry road surface allows to distinguish them efficiently. This kind of technique can be used for road surface recognition in all weather conditions and does not require presence of daylight or other sources of illumination. In this paper, calibration procedures and radiometric characterisations of the radiometer are studied in order to select the best and simpler method to operate the radiometer. It was found that calibrating the radiometer with only one blackbody target or using a table of gain and system noise temperature is sufficiently accurate over a long time to be able to distinguish dry from ice or water covered surfaces. The laboratory results are showing a high difference in the brightness temperature between road surface covered with ice, water or oil and the dry road surface. No ambiguities between those conditions exist but potential limitations could rise, for example if the road surface roughness changes during a measurement. Those promising results validate the potential of using radiometer for road safety and the automotive industry. The presented laboratory measurements are the first step towards the implementation of the instrument into a moving vehicle for alerting drivers ahead of unforeseen dangers.
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