Hilliard, Ohio -- GhostWave, a radar company based in Hilliard, Ohio, has innovated advanced radar technology to combat real-world drone related safety and security issues. While its first project, backed by Ohio Federal Research Network (OFRN) funding, was focused on preventing mid-air collision of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) with manmade and natural objects, for its second OFRN project, the company is preparing to test a stronger ground-based radar system with wider range. The technologies, which are patented by The Ohio State University, were researched and developed under the OFRN Rounds 3 and 4 Sustaining Ohio’s Aeronautical Readiness and Innovation (SOARING) initiative.
The OFRN is a program managed by Parallax Advanced Research and funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The OFRN’s SOARING projects leverage Ohio’s unique aerospace assets to assist recipients in overcoming critical technical barriers and business challenges to enable more widespread adoption of UASs into the national aerospace.
GhostWave’s SOARING Round 3 Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) onboard detect and avoid project
The OFRN SOARING Round 3 funded GhostWave’s $1.3 million Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion for UAV onboard detect and avoid project. GhostWave anticipated the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) approval of flying drones beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and focused on innovating a non-jammable detect and avoid technology that can be mounted on a UAS, enabling it to detect obstructions in its path and avoid mid-air collisions.
While work on the first project was underway, a Saudi Arabian oil refinery was bombed by a low-altitude-flying drone, which made it apparent that there was a need for a system that could detect such threats.
“They had security systems looking high up and in one direction; nobody was monitoring 360 degrees, looking for the low altitude threats. With this event, a new need in radar technology became evident,” said GhostWave CEO Dean Zody.
This led GhostWave to conceptualize its next innovation: a stronger and more far-reaching radar system that could make prominent high-stake areas safe from security threats by low-flying drones that can escape existing high-altitude surveillance systems.
GhostWave’s SOARING Round 4 Integrated Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion System for Aerospace Awareness Project
GhostWave’s Integrated Optical-Radar Sensor Fusion System for Aerospace Awareness, a $1.2 million project funded by the OFRN SOARING Round 4 initiative, is a ground-based radar system with stronger sensor capacity and wider range compared to the company’s previous airborne/onboard radars. This system combines the optics feature of cameras with the range and velocity of radars for air-space awareness. The project that was initially written for the U.S. Army, for perimeter monitoring at sensitive locations like domestic and foreign army bases to secure them from bomb threats (from low-altitude drones), is also relevant for other situations like airports, diplomats’ residences, and prisons.
When explaining this in detail, Zody said, “The State of Ohio and other states have problems with drones flying drugs and weapons into prisons. This system places GhostWave radar on the wall of a prison. It senses any distant intrusive object and signals a sniper camera to zoom in on it. The system then assesses the object’s risk factor and is able to report it so that safety and security measures can be taken.”
The OFRN helps GhostWave expand its customer and collaborator network
The OFRN helped GhostWave expand its network and get connected to other agencies operating in radar technology. This helped the company earn more funding to develop their technology as well as form a beneficial network.
“The OFRN Round 3 was really important for GhostWave as a startup company. It was very strong on I-Corps customer discovery, and with that there was a lot of interaction with the Air Force which got Ghostwave connected to the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate. With our models built with OFRN funding, we were able to demonstrate our capabilities in front of the Air Force. The entire networking chain started with the OFRN,” said Zody.
With the OFRN networking support, GhostWave enhanced its skills to adapt to supply-chain challenges, specifically a global semi-conductor shortage, due to the pandemic. It recently redesigned key components based on availability of materials.
“We made a new radar control-board design for the OFRN Round 4 opportunity. However, parts that were available at the beginning of the project now had a lead-in of 26 weeks, so we had to go back a couple of times and redesign our boards to use different size components. GhostWave and its partners had to learn how to do alternate designs with alternate components based on availability of material. Through the OFRN, we certainly learned how to redesign and find suitable components,” said Zody.
GhostWave’s OFRN funded projects serve the Department of Defense and military (Army, Navy, and the Air Force) and Department of Agriculture. The company also won a $120,000 Army XTech Search award in October 2019, a $100,000 Department of Agriculture award in February 2019, and a $150,000 Small Business Technology Transfer ( ) award in December 2020. GhostWave is currently in the review process for five Small Business Innovation Research ( ) & STTRs and received proposal navigation support and free services provided by Parallax Advanced Research’s Academic Partnership Engagement Experiment program. The company is anticipating participating in the 2022 Ohio Urban Air Mobility Symposium and is preparing to test its integrated optical-radar sensor fusion system later this year.
About Parallax Advanced Research
Parallax Advanced Research is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Parallax provides efficient and effective contracting, security, and research support for academic institutions across the State of Ohio and the Nation. Together with academia, Parallax accelerates innovation that leads to new breakthroughs. Together with government, Parallax tackles critical global challenges and delivers new solutions. Together with industry, Parallax develops groundbreaking ideas and speeds them to market.
About the OFRN
The OFRN has the mission to stimulate Ohio’s innovation economy by building statewide university/industry research collaborations that meet the requirements of Ohio’s federal laboratories, resulting in the creation of technologies that drive job growth for the State of Ohio. The OFRN is a program managed by Parallax Advanced Research.
Located in Hilliard, Ohio, GhostWave is a startup committed to revolutionizing the radar space by introducing an innovative approach to radar that serves to improve the safety, security, and reliability of radar systems. Ghostwave product has applications in three main areas: Unmanned aircraft systems, automotive collision-detection sensors, and studying bees.