Fast processing techniques for accurate ultrasonic range measurements
Four methods of range measurement for airborne ultrasonic systems - namely simple thresholding, curve-fitting, sliding-window, and correlation detection - are compared on the basis of bias error, standard deviation, total error, robustness to noise, and the difficulty/complexity of implementation. Whereas correlation detection is theoretically optimal, the other three methods can offer acceptable performance at much lower cost. Performances of all methods have been investigated as a function of target range, azimuth, and signal-to-noise ratio. Curve fitting, sliding window, and thresholding follow correlation detection in the order of decreasing complexity. Apart from correlation detection, minimum bias and total error is most consistently obtained with the curve-fitting method. On the other hand, the sliding-window method is always better than the thresholding and curve-fitting methods in terms of minimizing the standard deviation. The experimental results are in close agreement with the corresponding simulation results. Overall, the three simple and fast processing methods provide a variety of attractive compromises between measurement accuracy and system complexity. Although this paper concentrates on ultrasonic range measurement in air, the techniques described may also find application in underwater acoustics.