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Heavy machinery using UWB radar sensors for safety measures

Construction sites can be a great place to work but the speed in which events happen mixed with the sum of possible safety hazards make heavy equipment safety a top priority among construction companies. Nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across the U.S on any given day. According to the United States Department of Labor, the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries. The importance of enhanced security measures in the construction industry is crucial and we at Novelda believe that systems based on the Xethru UWB radar technology will make a contribution to greater safety in the industry.

The Hanyang University in South Korea has used the XeThru radar sensors in a multitude of projects, ranging from respiration monitoring to in-store human presence detection. Led by Dr. Sung Ho Cho, the team recently developed a XeThru UWB radar based human detection sensor that can be utilized in a construction setting.

Dr. Cho explains the project's challenges and the measures they took to successfully develop the application. Presence detection is a basic feature in radar safety applications. The radar is normally installed on a wall/pillar or a tripod, and used in a stationary manner. It detects all moving objects, while ignoring anything static.

However in a construction scenario, the radar is installed directly on the constantly vibrating and shaking body of the machinery, and used in moving, swinging, and jigging operation environments. The radar's challenge is to detect anything moving and/or static moving towards or present in the radar observation region. The false alarm rate must also stay reasonably low.

The biggest challenge is to determine the adaptable decision level according to different operation environments. It should not be too high, to avoid a non-zero error probability in recognizing the presence of the human/object. It should also not be too low to avoid unnecessary false alarms. Moreover, the adaptation of the decision level must be made within a time limit by reflecting the amount of vibrations and shakes of the radar, as well as the amount of variations of operation environments.

In their test video, the team shows that the radar detection system mounted on the excavator is able to successfully detect construction workers and static objects close to the heavy machinery.

Long-time Novelda partner Flat Earth Inc. also offers a very similar solution using the XeThru UWB radar. In addition to a detection range up to 10 meters, they have implemented a convenient feature that differentiates between humans and objects. They are currently looking for OEM partners who can incorporate their solution into heavy machine equipment. Flat Earth Inc. can be reached at or through their website

Flat Earth's heavy machine human radar detector
Flat Earth's solution can differentiate between humans and objects

With high potential hazards for workers in construction, we believe that radar operated applications, such as the one developed by Hanyang University and Flat Earth Inc., can help lower the fatal injury rate and provide safer working environments for workers.