Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Proceedings Volume 6214: Laser Radar Technology and Applications XI



Publication Date



Ladar systems are an emerging technology with applications in many fields. Consequently, simulations for these systems have become a valuable tool in the improvement of existing systems and the development of new ones. This paper discusses the theory and issues involved in reliably modeling the return waveform of a ladar beam footprint in the Utah State University LadarSIM simulation software. Emphasis is placed on modeling system-level effects that allow an investigation of engineering tradeoffs in preliminary designs, and validation of behaviors in fabricated designs. Efforts have been made to decrease the necessary computation time while still maintaining a usable model. A full waveform simulation is implemented that models optical signals received on detector followed by electronic signals and discriminators commonly encountered in contemporary direct-detection ladar systems. Waveforms are modeled using a novel hexagonal sampling process applied across the ladar beam footprint. Each sample is weighted using a Gaussian spatial profile for a well formed laser footprint. Model fidelity is also improved by using a bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) for target reflectance. Once photons are converted to electrons, waveform processing is used to detect first, last or multiple return pulses. The detection methods discussed in this paper are a threshold detection method, a constant fraction method, and a derivative zero-crossing method. Various detection phenomena, such as range error, walk error, drop outs and false alarms, can be studied using these detection methods.