With the rise of “smart” devices and Internet of Things (IoT), modern and future wireless communication technologies, such as 5G, are moving to higher bands in the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum, previously reserved for sensing applications. Due to the similarities in terms of bandwidth, operating frequency and hardware between the communication and radar systems, passive radars exploiting communication illuminators have been proposed in the recent years. The main principle is that instead of using a dedicated transmitter, a passive radar receiver could use communication transmissions as illuminators of opportunity to perform remote sensing. While this concept enables a number of positive impact applications, if misused, it also poses a serious security threat. In the literature it has already being demonstrated how passive radars can utilise WiFi signals to monitor though wall human motion activity and perform eavesdropping from speakers. The issue becomes even more significant due to stealth nature of passive radars which make them harder to detect as they do not have active EM emissions. While a significant background on passive sensing using previous generation communications exists in the literature, the exploitation of 5G and the monitoring capabilities such systems might exhibit remain uncharted.
The aim of the proposed research is to investigate innovative solutions exploiting the potential that 5G telecommunication technologies offer, in order to develop novel remote sensing paradigms and applications. The technology will use 5G communication transmitters as illuminators of opportunity (IOs) and exploit their emissions to perform passive sensing (no additional RF emission required), optimizing power and frequency resources while unlocking the full potential of a specific portion of the electromagnetic spectrum in the sensing domain. The proposed research has the potential to highly impact academia by investigating the operating principles and fundamental signal processing of 5G based passive sensing, allowing for further research to branch out in different domains. As part of the project, a set of applications will be identified and used as case studies for technology demonstration.
Along with bespoke state-of-the-art system designs tailored to 5G IOs, the research will also focus on the development of novel algorithms to enable advanced monitoring solutions in specific scenarios of interest. A set of objectives have been identified in order to allow the achievement of the project aim:
- Assessment of the sensing capabilities, limitation and requirements of the proposed passive systems based on 5G and previous generation communication signals;
- Development of a passive radar (PR) sensor exploiting software defined radio technologies;
- Design of frameworks to process the 5G based PR signals for specific applications;
- Demonstration of the technology and applications;