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Just like X-ray vision

March 23, 2004|Christopher Reynolds

Researchers at UC Davis have patented plans for a radar system that could help rotary snowplow operators and avalanche rescue teams "see" up to 6 feet into snowbanks.

The next step for the university's Advanced Rotary Plow project is to build a prototype, which research scientist Ty A. Lasky says may take another year.

The key to the patent, Lasky says, is the concept of a narrow radar beam that can look past distractions to distinguish buried larger objects -- boulders, bodies, stray tire cables, perhaps land mines in dirt as well -- and present them on a screen that a vehicle operator can easily read.

That sets the new technology apart from much avalanche rescue gear, which often depends on victims wearing wave-emitting transponders.

The project is part of the university's Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology research center. The project is directed by Bahram Ravani and is funded by the California Department of Transportation.

-- Christopher Reynolds

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