History of creation of GROT series georadars

It is academician, who is considered to be "the Godfather" of GPR technology, presented by our team, as he, while heading the "Intercosmos", chose our group to be the developer of a GPR for Mars-94 space program in 1987. IZMIRAN, which we were presenting at that time, competed in creating the device for probing Mars with IRE RAS, which was headed by V. A. Kotel'nikov.

At the time of V. A. Kotel'nikov making the decision we didn’t have any theoretical estimates, or even a laboratory model, what we had was just an idea. We were known because we had successfully solved the problem of information transmission at low frequencies to a considerable depth in low-resistance media. We were chosen to be prior to authoritative specialists, who had experience in this field (such as M. I. Finkelstein, N. A. Armand, N. P. Chubinskiy, etc.). V. A. Kotel'nikov said to them: "One day those guys might be able to probe Mars up to 150 meters, while you with your attempts to improve existing technologies won’t be able to do it in my lifetime ".

The inflexibility of restrictions imposed on the weight, size and power consumption characteristics of all space instruments forced the specialists of different organizations, and above all IZMIRAN, to take a non-traditional approach (in comparison with classic one), and create an ultra-wideband monopulse radar. (1)

At the same time, IZMIRAN began to work on other fields of application of this prospective technology (for example, its practical use in public services), and a device was designed for radar probing of the underlying surfaces at a relatively small depth. (2)

12 years later at the Scientific Session of the Department of General Physics and Astronomy of the Russian Academy of Sciences two reports on the development of GPR technology were presented. One was made by Doctor of Physics and Mathematics Alexander E. Reznikov (director of the EPOS department in IZMIRAN), who is one of the founders of our research centre, and the other one was made by Doctor of Technical Sciences Neon A. Armand (Deputy of the director of Institute of Radio Engineering and Electronics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, while the director was V. A. Kotelnikov). The reports were published in one of the “Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk” issues. (3)

In the course of the discussion of the reports it was obvious that both technologies have the right to be used, but the one that uses short nanosecond pulses allows (with all other conditions being equal) to probe much deeper than the technology that uses a quasi-monochromatic pulses.

"Theorem-man" was right, being able to rise above short-term interests and evaluating deservedly promising ideas. His principled stance played a critical role in gaining the current leading position of Russian georadars in deep geological and geophysical studies.

Taking into account available hardware components, construction characteristics of the nodes of ultra-wideband monopulse radars for subsurface probing had been studied (to a certain extent) by 1997. Successful field tests were held and a number of important facilities had been researched. Despite the obvious, even though not close perspectives, government support of such academic research in this field of science was meagre and insufficient, while industries, which traditionally carry out the practical application of academic developments, at that moment were having hard times.

In order not to lose qualified and tested professionals, who were actively moving into different spheres of activity, and the groundwork, in 1997 the Research Centre of Timer CJSC was founded to develop high technologies under new, post-Soviet conditions.

The process of division of intellectual property rights took several years and wasn’t easy, as it never is, when specialists stop working together after developing one product together for a long period of time.

At the initial stage Timer CJSC ordered manufacturing of individual components of GPRs and development work at a plant, which traditionally carried out IZMIRAN’s orders, in St. Petersburg. In 2000 Timer CJSC and this firm made an agreement on ground penetrating radars modernization and manufacture works, after which GROT-10 and GROT-11 GPRs appeared. Technical task and sketch documentation for components of the set were provided by the customer Timer CJSC.

Since 2003, at the same plant, using the same technology, LOZA GPRs are produced, manufactured for a different customer, though originally these georadars were exceptionally similar by their characteristics and appearance to GROT-10. Since then, these two model series develop independently, and all specialists, who participated in the GPR technology development and application, from IZMIRAN and subcontracting enterprises could make their choice in favour of one of these two organizations.

Since 2003, Timer CJSC produces GROT series georadars and GPR mathematical software for them on its own.

Competition required active promotion of ground penetrating radars, produced by Timer CJSC under the brand name GROT, application in construction engineering and geological surveys. The key to success is continuously improving construction and software of GROT georadars. Some construction features of ground penetrating radars GROT were presented at the first Russian scientific conference "Ultrawide-band signals in radar, communication and acoustics UWB SRCA 2003" (4) and protected by a patent.

Usage of comparators and time gating in modifications of GROT-10 and GROT-11 allowed describing the signal waveform by accumulating pulses of the transmitter. The accuracy and resolution of the instrument depended on the number of probe pulses and their precise synchronization, which determined the main limitations of this method. Already implemented in GROT-10 possibility of registering a signal in linear scale required significant investment in production (for example, recently, one of our competitors has announced applying a linear scale registration of wave forms, and this is 10 years later than we have).

Most illustrative of the early works done with the use of GROT georadars is presented in the monograph "Problems of subsurface radiolocation", which was published in 2005 by "Radiotekhnika" publishing. (5) (7)

Since then, significant changes have been made to the software that is used to operate the radar and process the results of experimental studies. (6)

A new data processing software program GrotData has been created especially for GROT family ground-penetrating radars. This program allows taking into account local changes in the parameters of the underlying surface, such as humidity, for example, and providing visualization in 3D.

Since 2003 Timer CJSC carries out joint field tests of subsurface probing radars and optoelectronic devices, which allow building images of earth surface in ultraviolet, visible, infrared and UHF ranges. It is proved that at least for some media and objects (graves, archaeological sites, minefields, oil polluted areas) such joint research can significantly improve the accuracy of objects detection and increase the productivity of usage of subsurface radars.

The experience of applying the equipment under field conditions over many years led to realization of need to facilitate the construction and switch to new components. In 2005 the work on creating the basic design of new model line of subsurface probing radars GROT 12 was mostly completed.

GROT 12 was developed after the honing tests of GPR GROT-11 for its subsequent replacement so as to be used to carry out survey works at great depths.

In GROT 12 the registration and processing of the reflected signal over the entire frequency range with just a single pulse were used. It allowed removing the distortion, peculiar to the previous generation of ground penetrating radars, significantly reducing the energy consumption and increasing battery life of ground penetrating radars.

In addition, in GROT 12 more powerful mathematical methods of data processing are used, and that provides more accurate results.

Unlike the closest analogue, georadar GROT-11, GROT 12 is operated directly via the computer, and data processing and interpretation take place simultaneously with receiving information.

GROT 12 allows you performing scanning up to depths over 100 meters with the horizontal and vertical resolution of 0.1-0.5 meters, while in heavy clay soils the depths are at least 12-25 meters and under favourable geological conditions of high resistance rocks the depths are greater than 300-400 meters.

In 2011, an innovative ground penetrating radar GROT 12E was produced. It was based on the georadar GROT 12, but is operating in a higher frequency range. GROT 12E has a higher resolution and provides unparalleled results when solving tasks at depths, which are less than 30 meters.

In 2016, due to the changes in the legislation of the Russian Federation the company was transformed from Timer CJSC to Timer LLC.

We do not stop on reached and continue to help our customers in Russia and abroad to achieve their even the most ambitious and challenging goals.

REFERENCES

  1. Balikhin M.A.,Cattermole P.J.,Gaidanskii V.I., Jenkins P.J.,Kingsley S.P., Lachlan-Cope T.A., Natanson A.M., Quegan S., Reznikov A.E. and Wolliscroft L.J.C. A mobile lander-borne radar to investigate the subsurface of the planet Mars. COSPAR 27-th Planetary Meeting of the committee on Space Res. 18-29 July 1988, p. 34.
  2. Garbazevich V.А., Kopeikin V.V., Kun S.E., Schekotov А.U. A device for radar sensing of the underlying surface. Russian Federation patent number 2080622 dated May 27, 1997.
  3. Reznikov A.E., Kopeikin V.V., Morozov P.А., Schekotov А.U.  Development of equipment, data processing methods for electromagnetic subsurface probing and experiments with their application. Phys 2000, Volume 170, №5. 
  4. Reznikov A.E., Kopeikin V.V., O Yen Den, Bolshakov E.U., Kun S.E., Volkomirskaya L.B., Schekotov А.U., Smirnov A.A. Comparative characteristics of modern GPR. - Proceedings of the All-Russian scientific conference "UWB signals in radar, communications and acoustics". Murom. 2003. pp. 441-445.
  5. Volkomirskaya L.B., Varenkov V.V., Lobzin V.V., Reznikov A.E., Rudenchik E.A. Key design features of "GROT-10" and "GROT-11" georadars, the experience of their operation and data processing. Moscow. Radiotekhnika. 2005. P.416.
  6. Varenkov V.V., Volkomirskaya L.B., O Yen Den, Rudenchik E.A. The algorithm for determining the parameters of the medium with the waveform of a signal detected by GPR. - Proceedings of the All-Russian scientific conference "UWB signals in radar, communications and acoustics". Murom. 2003. pp. 230-232.
  7. Volkomirskaya L.B., Varenkov V.V., Lobzin V.V., Reznikov A.E., Rudenchik E.A. Detection and diagnosis of underground utilities using "GROT-10" georadar. Moscow. Radiotekhnika, 2005. P. 416.