Frequently Asked Questions

What is radar?

Radar is a sensor that transmits pulses of electromagnetic waves and receives reflections of objects and targets. The returning wave patterns indicate the distance, direction, and speed of objects on the ground and/or in the air.

High-performance radar sensors, used for a half-century by the military, are often large and heavy, consume a lot of power, and are incredibly costly. Referred to collectively as C-SWaP (cost, size, weight, and power), these factors have made radar impractical for commercial applications, and have even prevented use on many military platforms where C-SWaP is a constraint. While in the last two decades there have emerged very low-cost radar sensors for automobiles, these have been limited to very short-range (several hundred meters).

Outside the automotive sector, modern radar designers have made significant efforts towards reducing C-SWaP in attempts to unblock commercial markets in security, autonomy, collision avoidance, and situational awareness, but unfortunately those efforts have often come with significant compromises on performance. Echodyne’s portfolio of ultra-low C-SWaP radars is recognized as a “cost-per-performance” breakthrough, bringing the fidelity and accuracy of high-end military radar systems to a C-SWaP that meets both commercial and government needs.

Are there different types of radar? 

Yes, radars are operationally unique. Different sizes, transmit powers, system architectures, frequencies, signal processing, and modes of operation are all design-tailored to specific requirements and constraints of the application. However, within that maze of designs, there are a few primary categories.

The first category has to do with how the electromagnetic waves are generated and transmitted: they can be confined to short pulses or transmitted continuously, logically named Pulsed or Continuous Wave – CW radar systems. Pulsed radar systems have a long & trusted pedigree in defense applications and many modern systems employ CW (especially Frequency Modulated CW – FMCW).

Another key radar category has to do with the antenna that transmits and receives the electromagnetic waves, and what type of antenna it is. There are mechanical antennas (like a satellite dish) that need to be physically pointed, there are stationary omni-directional antennas that don’t provide much directional information. And there are electronically steered antennas (ESA’s – sometimes called Phased Arrays) that control the electromagnetic waves signal on transmit and receive and direct them into highly directional “beams” which improves detection range and sensitivity.

ESA’s have been the gold standard when high-performance is critical (such as in DoD applications) since WWII, and Echodyne radars are ESAs. However, by using a proprietary technology called metamaterials Echodyne can deliver ESA performance for orders of magnitude lower C-SWaP than has ever been possible. 

What is MESA radar?

MESA stands for metamaterials electronically scanned array. Metamaterials is proprietary Echodyne technology and the secret sauce for packaging all  the power of conventional ESAs into an ultra-low SWaP form factor.

What are metamaterials?

Metamaterials is not actually material science. Rather, it is a physics-based approach to design. The metamaterials approach fundamentally asks “what material response do I need to achieve the desired behavior?” and then subsequently “what are the different ways can I achieve that material response?” Often, this thinking can reveal a new and simpler solutions, and Echodyne has shown this is true in the case of ESA radars.

In 2014, under the leadership of Eben Frankenberg and Tom Driscoll and alongside a core team who helped incubate the technology, Echodyne launched with a vision of bringing a new generation of high-performance radar to what they saw as unmet sensor needs in the growing fields surrounding autonomy. Providing radar to autonomous vehicles on ground, air, and sea is part of that vision; and so is bringing much needed security to a world that is increasingly being disrupted by autonomous platforms such as drones.

How do I know if I need radar?

Radar provides detection of threats on the ground and in the air. Since drones are increasingly leveraged for unlawful and harmful means, radar is a valuable tool for agencies protecting people and places. Radar will detect anything that is moving, regardless of weather or lighting conditions, and radar provides exacting data that drives additional security decision making and technology deployment. For example, accurate radar data will spot an incoming drone before the best trained spotter can, then that data is used to slew a PTZcamera to put “eyes-on” the object, providing an opportunity to confirm whether the target is a threat. For companies and agencies  guarding against threats that will cause harm to people or way of life, radar is the foundational sensor for C-UAS, drone detection, and enhanced perimeter security.


What is the best radar for drone detection?

For effective drone detection at night and during the day, regardless of weather conditions, agencies should choose compact ESA radars with user-configurable mission modes and the ability to distinguish drones from birds. EchoGuard and EchoGuard CR have proven effective for detecting small size, fast-moving or hovering Class I drones within 1.5 kms. For locations with a threat vector requiring drone detection at greater distances, EchoShield detects, classifies, and tracks Class I drones within 3 kms. All Echodyne radars leverage metamaterials technology and have a solid state form factor, a wide field of view, and advanced software capabilities including Doppler signature to confirm and classify threats and develop high-priority target tracks for  assessing threat levels, informing responses, and  documenting criminal behavior.

What is the best radar for perimeter security?

Compact ESA beam-forming radar is ideal for enhanced perimeter security of critical infrastructure sites, high-value assets, and large event venues. These radars can be singly mounted on a tripod and operate independently using an embedded user interface (UI). MESAradars also integrate with C2/3 and video management software (VMS) for sensor fusion. EchoGuard and EchoShield radars are field-tested and proven and preferred for accuracy, operational ease, integration capability, and durability. A single Echodyne radar can detect multiple threats simultaneously on the ground and in the air within the field of view. User-configurable modes and masking boost operational efficiency. All Echodyne radars leverage metamaterials technology and have a solid state form factor, a wide field of view, and advanced software capabilities to confirm and classify threats and develop high-priority target tracks for  assessing threat levels, informing responses, and documenting criminal behavior.

What radar is best for critical infrastructure protection?

Critical infrastructure sites, especially energy generation and distribution, oil and gas, and nuclear facilities and ports, are at high risk for nefarious actors because the threat to people and systems creates extreme social, emotional, and economic disruption. For these sites, enhanced perimeter security including drone detection is a must. EchoGuard radars are tested and proven accurate, reliable, and durable for critical infrastructure protection.

Best-in-class EchoGuard radars leverage proprietary technology to deliver the power of defense-preferred ESA radars in an ultra-low SWaP package and at commercial prices. EchoGuard detects all moving objects on the ground and in the air within the field of view, regardless of weather or lighting conditions. And radar detects dark drones – those not emitting an RF signal. Multiple radars can be networked to provide full perimeter coverage even for oddly shaped properties. EchoGuard radars can operate independently using an embedded UI and can be integrated with existing VMSs for sensor fusion.

What is the best radar for Drone as First Responder (DFR) programs?

For agencies creating automated detect and avoid measures for DFR programs, EchoGuard radars are proven accurate, reliable and durable within 2kms. The soon-to-be released EchoShield has three times the detection range. The radar data streams into the DFR base operations so drone operators can observe in real time when the flight path contains interference or points of potential disruption. Cost efficient over time, radars strategically mounted within the DFR program zone increase program efficiency, allowing the program to run more often because the radar replaces the need for multiple boots-on-the-ground observers to meet designated approving authority (DAA) requirements. For mature DFR programs in larger metropolitan areas, agencies may elect to integrate the radar data to slew PTZ cameras for “eyes on” target.

What is the difference between radar and RF detection?

RF detection is sometimes confused as radar or a meaningful alternative to radar. This is not the case. RF detection sensors detect RF electromagnetic waves emitted from an object; if an object does not emit RF waves, the RF sensor will not detect anything. Conversely, radar uses electromagnetic waves that are pulsed and received to determine if there is an object(s) and to report the location, range, and velocity of the object(s); radar does not rely on the RF emission from an object. Unlike RF detection equipment, radar will detect anything that moves on the ground or in the air, and will detect dark drones, which are drones that do not emit an RF signal.

Where is Echodyne located?

Echodyne designs and manufactures radar sensors from its headquarters in Kirkland, Washington, USA.

When was Echodyne founded?

Echodyne was founded in 2014 by Eben Frankenberg and Tom Driscoll. The two were colleagues at Intellectual Ventures, where they leveraged metamaterials technology to advance radar science. Today they lead a growing business that delivers ultra-low SWaP-C radars for defense, government, critical infrastructure protection, UAS, and AV applications.

Who are Echodyne’s investors?

Privately held, Echodyne is based outside Seattle, Washington, and is backed by Bill Gates, NEA, Madrona Venture Group, Baillie Gifford, and Northrop Grumman, among others. For more information, please visit:

Does Echodyne have open positions?

Career information is located here.

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