The micromotions (e.g. vibration, rotation, etc.,) of a target induce time-varying frequency modulations on the reflected signal, called the micro-Doppler modulations. Micro-Doppler modulations are target specific and may contain information needed to detect and characterize the target. Thus, unlike conventional Doppler radars, Fourier transform cannot be used for the analysis of these time dependent frequency modulations. While Doppler radars can detect the presence of a target and deduce if it is approaching or receding from the radar location, they cannot identify the target. Meaning, for a Doppler radar, a small commercial aircraft and a fighter plane when gliding at the same velocity exhibit similar radar signature. However, using a micro-Doppler radar, the time dependent frequency variations caused by the vibrational and rotational micromotions of the two aircrafts can be captured and analyzed to discern between them. Similarly, micro-Doppler signature can be used to distinguish a multicopter from a bird, a quadcopter from a hexacopter or a octacopter, a bus from a car or a truck and even one person from another. In all these scenarios, joint time-frequency transforms must be employed for the analysis of micro-Doppler variations, in order to extract the targets’ features.
Due to ample bandwidth, THz radiation provides richer radar signals than the microwave systems. Thus, a Terahertz (THz) micro-Doppler radar is developed in this work for the detection and characterization of the micro-Doppler signatures of quadcopters. The radar is implemented as a continuous-wave (CW) radar in monostatic configuration and operates at a low-THz frequency of 270 GHz. A linear time-frequency transform, the short-time Fourier transform (STFT) is used for the analysis the micro-Doppler signature. The designed radar has been built and measurements are carried out using a quadcopter to detect the micro-Doppler modulations caused by the rotation of its propellers. The spectrograms are obtained for a quadcopter hovering in front of the radar and analysis methods are developed for characterizing the frequency variations caused by the rotational and vibrational micromotions of the quadcopter. The proposed method can be effective for distinguishing the quadcopters from other flying targets like birds which lack the rotational micromotions.