A stepped-frequency continuous-wave radar system has been designed and integrated into a drill head for use on midrange horizontal directional drills. Data from the forward-looking radar are acquired, processed, and displayed in near real time. A unique, computationally efficient target detection algorithm has been developed and tested to predict the position of potential obstacles in front of the drill head. This method is called derivative imaging, and it provides distance to target and radial offset information such that the drill operator may respond accordingly. Application to traditional ground-penetrating radar systems is also demonstrated.

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