skip to main content
National Center for Physical Acoustics
University of Mississippi

Army HLVTD Workshop

Human, Light Vehicle and Tunnel Detection (HLVTD) Workshop

The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the National Center for Physical Acoustics (NCPA) at the University of Mississippi, in association with the Research and Development Branch of the Israel Military of Defense (MAFAT) invite you to participate in an unclassified study group workshop that will focus on human, light vehicle and tunnel detection using acoustic, seismic, and electro-magnetic sensors.

The goal of this workshop and study group is to gather experts from government, academic and industry working on these topics and share the knowledge in a closed forum. Another goal is to discuss and determine the limitations of existing approaches and areas to be explored to make progress in a timely fashion. Detailed goals are attached in the following pages. You are invited to submit your papers depicting the state of the art approach in personnel, light vehicle or tunnel detection.

Human, Light Vehicle and Tunnel Study Group

The Army Research Laboratory and the National Center for Physical Acoustics , in association with the Research and Development Branch of the Israel Military of Defense are hosting an unclassified study group workshop during June 16-17, 2009 that will focus on human, light vehicle and tunnel detection using acoustic, seismic and magnetic and electric field sensors. The workshop’s target audience is university and government scientists and engineers with expertise in sensor phenomenology, signal processing, detection and network information processing.

The goal of the HLVTD study group is to collaboratively develop tools that allow networked multimodal sensor systems that take advantage of available sensor information such as signal features, human schedules, weather and other human intelligence to improve situational awareness for the soldier. The study group will publish proceedings from the papers presented at these meetings. This inaugural workshop on HLVTD specifically aims at understanding the physics to enable detection of humans, light vehicles and tunnels via physics-based signal processing approaches. ctivity are of primary interest. Environmental influences on the sensor and the wave propagation medium that impact sensor performance is of interest. Some such influences are background noise, weather, ground topology and vegetation. The use of human intelligence in aiding Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) will be explored as a part of soft and hard fusion paradigm.

Much work has been done to detect and classify heavy military vehicles that radiate loud signatures. However, that work may not always be applicable because the signatures for humans, light vehicles, and tunnels are usually weak and hidden beneath the sensor noise. Therefore, novel physics-based approaches are paramount in order to extract the signatures out of the noise. Some description of the phenomenology of the signatures created by the human, light vehicle, and tunnels are briefly described below.

  1. The human body is a multi-degree of freedom harmonic oscillator resulting from coupled appendages, including the head, torso, arms and legs. The movement of a human across the ground and the oscillatory motions of the body appendages provide characteristic human signatures. The ground is cyclically loaded from footsteps and accelerometers and geophones have been used to sense seismic energy from this periodic loading. The motion of arms, legs and other body components are low frequency harmonic vibrations that have been sensed with Doppler radar and sonar. Footstep induced electrostatic charge transfer to produce oscillatory signals that have been sensed with electric field sensors. Ferromagnetic materials such as weapons, when carried by humans produce oscillatory fields that are sensed with magnetic field sensors. Additional human signatures result from voice composed of formants. Formants are the distinguishing or meaningful frequency components of human speech. Most human activity yields oscillatory signatures that can be understood from the nature of the human biomechanical structure and sensed with a wide spectrum of multi-modal sensors.
  2. Light ground-based vehicles, small cars and trucks, produce signatures much like humans. Airborne and ground borne vibrations emanate from vehicles. Acoustic and electromagnetic energy from vehicle power train components and secondarily coupled body panel, frame and suspension signatures are generally harmonic in nature. Vehicle tire/ground induced energy may be periodic and broadband. Just as with human motion, the harmonic content of vehicle source signatures in addition to signatures that propagate through the air or ground can be sensed with a wide spectrum of sensors. Unlike the military vehicles, civilian vehicles are relatively quite and produce signals that are difficult to distinguish. Special signal processing techniques that are based on physics based phenomenology are needed. This group would study the phenomenology to extract a rich feature set from all sensor modalities. It will also address the joint probability distributions of multimodal sensors to improve detection and classification.
  3. Tunnels can be detected by both passive and active means using both contact and non contact sensors. Sensing modalities can include the sensors used in human motion and light vehicle detection. For example, arrays of vibration sensors with mechanical exciters are often used for shallow tomographic imaging; other techniques including synthetic aperture principles are of interest. Similarly, vibration sensor arrays can be used to passively beam form tunneling sound signatures. Many tunnel sounds have unique frequency characteristics. For example, the resonance of sound in a tunnel may be exploited to detected tunnels by using the right frequency. Physics based understanding of the tunnel sound and vibration phenomenology exhibited by tunnels and tunnel activity will be studied in all sensor modalities. The characteristics of magnetic and E-fields generated due to the electric lines in the tunnels may lead to better feature set that may be observable using sensors on ground and aerial sensors. Finally, alternative sensing modalities such as microgravity sensors can respond to minute changes in the gravitational force due to cavities under the ground.

Please submit abstrats and titles to


Mr. Nino Srour
(301) 394-2623
Dr. Jim Sabatier
(662) 915-5404
Dr. Raju Damarla
(301) 394-1266