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Sensors & Software's founders have continuously pioneered Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) innovation. For more than 40 years, key personnel such as Peter Annan, Les Davis, Dave Redman among others have played leadership roles in shaping the GPR field. Practical experience combined with a professional scientific and engineering expertise give Sensors & Software the unique insight needed  to create innovative GPR solutions. Anticipating our customers’ needs and delivering practical, innovative and cost effective solutions define Sensors & Software.

 

Sensors & Software  - GPR History

1950 - 1960

While using radio waves to map beneath the earth’s subsurface had been suggested for decades, this period saw the first real field trials of 1-10 MHz signals to detect the water table and the initial use of radar altimeters to determine ice sheet thickness in Greenland. These seminal  events triggered the real birth of GPR.

Key reference: 

Waite,A.H., and S.J. Schmidt. Gross errors in height indication from pulse radar altimeters operating over ice or snow, IRE Intern.Conv. Record, Pt 5, 38-54, 1961

 

1960 - 1970

Ice sounding spawned research groups at The University of Wisconsin, USA and the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge, UK. Radio echo sounding saw pioneers such as Stan Evans, Chuck Bentley, Bud Waite and others use radio echo sounding in many ice-covered areas. Seminal results include determining the thickness and internal structure of the Antarctic ice sheet and many glaciers.

Reports appeared on initial forays into non-ice uses in salt mines by Unterberger and coal by  Cook. The Apollo lunar science program created sustained interest in radio frequency sounding. One of Sensors & Software’s founders, Annan's graduate thesis research turned into the Surface Electrical Properties Experiment (SEP) carried on Apollo 17. The Apollo program assembled a team that produced many of the future GPR innovators  including Olhoeft, Redman, England, Watts, Rossiter, Jiracek, Phillips, and others.

Key References:  

Annan, A.P., 1973, Radio Interferometery Depth Sounding: Part I – Theoretical Discussion, Geophysics, Vol. 38, No. 3, pp. 557-580.

 

1970 - 1975

Many advances appeared during this period. The Apollo 17 mission was successfully completed. Understanding of material property increased greatly. The dispersal of the Apollo team scientists to various institutions transferred the lunar research knowledge to a number of institutions such as the Geological Survey of Canada and US Geological Survey as well as universities. A cross pollination of various background experiences occurred such as the teaming up of Annan and Davis at the Geological Survey with Morey, who was producing the first commercial GPR products to address arctic pipeline developments.

Key References:
 
Annan, A.P., Davis, J.L., 1976, Impulse Radar Sounding in Permafrost, Radio Science, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 383-394.

 

1975 - 1980

Many GPR developments started seriously during this time. Annan and Davis combined at the Geological Survey of Canada with the collective experience of  the Scott Polar Research Institute radio echo sounding community and the Apollo science community. Together they explored the use of GPR in many application areas such as permafrost, ice sounding, bathymetry, soil moisture for agriculture, potash mine hazards, nuclear waste disposal site assessment, measurement of concrete properties, rock quality determination,  hydrogeology  and many others.

Similar developments were spawned by Olheoft at the USGS. Numerous uses in permafrost and ice areas were explored at CRREL by Kovacs, Arcone. Salt mine developments continued with Unterberger at Texas A&M and BGR in Germany. All groups were interconnected by the common background networks.

The barrier to advancement was the availability of suitable instrumentation and spawned many of the product concepts now visible in Sensors & Software products.

Key References:
 
Topp, C.G., Davis, J.L., Annan, A.P., 1980, Electromagnetic Determination of Soil Water Content: Measurements in Coaxial Transmission Lines, Water Resource Research, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 574-582. 

Annan, A.P., Davis, J.L, Gendzill, D., 1986,Radar Sounding in Potash Mine, Saskatchewan, Canada, Geophysics, Vol. 53, No. 12, pp. 1556-1564.


 

1980 - 1985

Sensors & Software's initial products developed in this period. Annan founded A-Cubed Inc. in 1981 to develop custom geophysical instrumentation. GPR  was identified as a priority opportunity and Davis and Annan re-united. They created the pulseEKKO I, the first light weight man-portable GPR, and pulseEKKO II, a fully digital, low frequency GPR.

Field trials and commercial surveys in many applications were carried out. A continuous evolution of technology occured and field practical solutions were designed. The standardization of data formats for digital storage of GPR occurred at this time and the .dt1 file, still commonly used, was established during this period.

Other instrument developments took place around the world such as those of Ensco/Xadar and of OYO Corporation

Key References:

Annan, A.P, Davis, J.L., Black, G, Leggatt, C.D., 1985, Geological Sounding using Low-Frequency Radar, Society of Exploration Geophysicists 55th Annual International Meeting and Exposition: Expanded Abstracts of the Technical Program with Authors’ Biographies, Washington, D.C., pp. 5-7.


 

1985 - 1990

A-Cubed completed the pulseEKKO III modular man-portable digital GPR, incorporating fibre optics cabling and seismic-like digital data display and plotting and analysis. Based on demand for the technology, Sensors & Software was created to commercialize the developments in 1989. The principals leading this effort were Annan, Leggatt, Chua and Cosway who were recognized by the SEG’s entrepreneurial award in 2006 for this pioneering effort. The company’s first product was the pulseEKKO IV, a derivative of the pulseEKKO III which used a portable PC to control the system .

Key References:
 
Davis, J.L., Annan, A.P., 1989, Ground Penetrating Radar for High-Resolution Mapping of Soil and Rock Stratigraphy, Geophysical Prospecting, Vol. 37, pp. 531-551.

 

1990 - 1995

The early 1990's saw great success with the pulseEKKO IV. Leading research groups interested in GPR around the world favored this fully digital and flexible system. Sensors & Software's commitment to innovation and advancement of GPR showed in the creation of the pulseEKKO 1000 in 1992 for high resolution engineering applications; in 1994 the pulseEKKO 100 succeeded the pulseEKKO IV. Both the pulseEKKO 100 and 1000 were fully modular bistatic portable instruments.
 
The full digital aspect of the pulseEKKO GPR systems ensured delivery of much more quantified and higher quality data than ever before. The ability to acquire multi-offset data and the development of a range of data analysis tools enabled new applications of GPR such as multifold GPR data processing.

Key References:

Fisher, E., McMechan, G.A., Annan, A.P., 1991, Acquisition and Processing of Wide-Aperture Ground Penetrating Radar Data, Geophysics, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 495-504. 

Brewster, M.L., Annan, A.P., 1994, Ground-penetrating radar monitoring of a controlled DNAPL release: 200 MHz radar, Geophysics, Vol. 59, No. 8, pp. 1211-1221.


 

1995 - 2000

Demand for simpler and easier to use GPR continued to grow leading to Sensors & Software's creation of the Noggin family of GPR systems. A Noggin is a complete GPR instrument distinct from modular systems of the past. The “point & shoot” Noggins complemented the modular pulseEKKO family more suited to professional GPR users.

The first SmartCart configurations were introduced along with the initial DVL units needed to overcome impractical issues around Windows based PCs. Innovations in engineering and groundwater applications resulted from introduction of the pulseEKKO borehole antennas along with a range of tomography imaging software.
 
Formal regulation of GPR started to occur primarily in the UK and the USA.  In the USA Sensors & Software led by Annan worked with the UWB community to ensure that GPR was accepted by the Federal Communications Commission. These efforts resulted in the formation of the GPRIC of GPR manufacturers to work with the FCC in formulating acceptable regulations that recognized GPR.

Key References:

Overmeeren, R.A., 1997, Radar Faces of Unconsolidated Sediments in the Netherlands – A Radar Stratigraphy Interpretation Method of Hydrogeology, Preprint for Special Issue of Journal of Applied Geophysics on Ground Penetrating Radar, 1997, 20 pages

Redman, J.D., Gilson, E., Kunert, M., Pilon, J., Annan, A.P., 1996, Borehole Radar for Environmental Applications: Selected Case Studies, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR ’96).

Huisman, J.A., Hubbard, S.S., Redman, J.D., Annan, A.P., 2003, Measuring Soil Water Content with Ground Penetrating Radar: A Review, Vadose Zone Journal, Vol. 2 (2003), pp. 476-491.

Annan, A.P. honorary member of SEG for pioneering of GPR.

 

2000 - 2004

GPR innovation continued but at a slower pace owing to the regulatory confusion. Sensors & Software introduced Conquest, a totally new concept in GPR. Conquest provided a complete solution for concrete structure assessment including advanced 3D imaging on site in real-time

In 2002, the FCC issued the initial Part 15.509 regulations addressing GPR. While many compromises were made, GPR technology was legitimized. The regulatory movement in Europe slowly gained steam with Sensors & Software becoming a member of European Technical Standards Institute (ETSI), the only GPR company to do so, and playing an instrumental role in advancing the interest of GPR in Europe.

Key References:

Davis, J.L. and Annan, A.P., 2000, GPR to Measure Soil Water Content, Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 4 Physical Methods, J.H. Dane and G.C. Topp, Co-editors, Soil Science Society of America, Inc., pp. 446-463 


 

2004 - 2008

2005 saw the emergence of the pulseEKKO PRO which married the puleEKKO 100 and 1000 into one unified modular GPR family. 2006 introduced the next generation of Conquest. A variety of SmartCart and SmartTow configurations were added to support deployment of GPR systems.

Sensors & Software unveiled the unique RoadMap platform. The RoadMap configuration deployed multiple GPR units with the ability to acquire GPR ground coupled data at highway speeds. A wide variety of software innovations and advancements included EKKO_View, EKKO_Mapper, and ConquestView.

Key References:

A. P. Annan: The Principals of Ground Penetrating Radar in Near-Surface Geophysics, SEG– Investigations in Geophysics; No. 13; Pg. 357-438; 2005 


 

2008 - Present

2008 saw the approval of the ETSI standard EN 302 066 for GPR. In 2009 Industry Canada regulations for GPR were embodied in RSS220.

The pace of innovation quickened as the regulatory issues faded. In 2009, SPIDAR launched the concept of arrays of GPR being networked together for many advanced applications. SPIDAR's unparalleled design allows virtually any number of Noggin and pulseEKKO units to be deployed and operated concurrently. Systems of multiple frequencies, multiple polarizations and multiple offsets can be fielded and operated simultaneously with ease.

Numerous other advances in specialty GPR are occuring. IceMap for winter road safety, SnowScan enabling snow management by the ski resorts and Rescue Radar for search and rescue groups are all recent Sensors & Software developments.


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Associations

Sensors & Software and its staff consider the following associations part of our network for advancement of GPR. The GPR community could not have become what it is without the networking and professional communications these associations provide.

 

 
   

 

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