The Dutch radar technology company Robin Radar Systems today launched IRIS, the only drone radar in the world capable of tracking and classifying drones in all three dimensions. The radar can easily be integrated with other systems. The system is lightweight, compact and nevertheless offers a wide detection range.

Radar is at the heart of most drone detection and tracking systems at airports, military locations, prisons and other high-security locations. However, being able to detect and track drones using radar remains a major technical challenge, especially when it comes to drone swarms, very small drones or new drone models.

The problem: for a radar to classify a drone — to distinguish it from a bird or other object — it must have enough time on target. To then follow the path of this object, the radar must have a quick update rate. This is achieved by rotating and updating quickly. The result? An unavoidable compromise between the ability to detect the drone and then track its movements.

That was the situation until today. Robin Radar Systems has launched an ‘uncompromising’ drone radar designed to deliver maximum performance on every front.

Robin Radar’s radar system works on the basis of the microdoppler effect. As a result, drones can be identified on the basis of their propellers. In order to both determine the position and to qualify the type of drone, the new IRIS drone radar includes two rotating antennas. As a result, each target in the airspace is observed twice at each rotation.

In addition to accurate classification in combination with tracking, IRIS has been designed with three core competencies in mind: 3D position determination with accurate height reporting, complete dome-like coverage and easy integration with other systems.

Robin Radar director Siete Hamminga: “We have challenged our engineers to develop a radar that performs the various tasks uncompromising. IRIS is distinguished by combining multiple functions. No one else has managed to integrate so many functionalities into one radar system.

There are a few great radars on the market, but what they all have in common is this inherent trade-off of functionalities. A wide range usually means a high weight with limited coverage. To achieve 360-degree coverage, multiple radar systems are required. Lightweight usually means low power and limited coverage and range. This is not the case with IRIS.

The new radar follows drones in 3D and provides altitude information about all goals. This is a very important function when countering drones. Security personnel need as much information as possible to quickly locate and mitigate a threat.

Unique to the IRIS is the impressive coverage volume of 360 degrees in azimuth and 60 degrees in altitude. That means IRIS can even detect still drones — something that’s almost impossible for most radars. Most radars cover less than 100 degrees. Some radars can cover 360 degrees, but not all of them can combine that with high-altitude coverage.

But one of the most surprising features of the new radar is its compact size. With a weight of 25 kg, a diameter of 554 mm and a height of 623 mm, it is one of the smallest radar systems with the most possibilities. It can even be lifted by one person!

This is an important fact, because radar is normally only one core component of a fully integrated solution, where an unwanted drone is also defused or disposed of after detection. Due to its small and lightweight size, IRIS can be transported and installed very easily.

In addition to these important possibilities, we can be proud of an instrumented range of 5 km. IRIS currently detects drones 4 km away and is able to distinguish them from birds at 1.4 km.

We are working to bring that to a classification distance of 2 km. That’s the great thing about all our systems: continuous software updates make them future-proof. There’s a lot we can do to improve IRIS’s performance even further, and there’s a lot in the planning already.

We wanted to develop technology that is accessible and affordable and really does not compromise. We absolutely achieved that in IRIS.”