The problem with laser range finders is that only a small number of the signals transmitted come back.

  • Ove Ronny Haraldsen
    Group Communication Manager

With the BATRAM 1550, KONGSBERG has developed a laser range finder which takes extremely good care of the few signals which return. This also allows considerable increases in range. 

“BATRAM 1550 is in principle a normal laser which measures the distance to an object or a target,”explains Kjell Arne Hellum, Senior System Engineer at Kjeller.

“It measures distance by transmitting a pulsed laser light. There are many types of lasers and uses, for example in the building industry, but our laser is specially designed for military use.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Primarily, the difference lies in the requirements made by the environment. The lasers in the building industry are mostly stationary, while ours are fitted on military vehicles which bump and shake, utilised in extreme temperatures from minus 46 to plus 71 degrees. What’s more, our lasers have to measure much greater distances than conventional lasers, in general.”

“What is the specific method used for laser measurements?”

“The principle is much the same as that used by sonars and echosounders. The laser transmits a light pulse and, after some time, receives an echo from this or a reflection. The time it takes from transmission to return is converted to distance.”

“BATRAM is an abbreviation for «Burst Adjustable Tactical Ranging Aiming Module ». Can you explain the different components of this complex name?”

“Burst means that we not only send out one pulse of light, but a burst or several thousand pulses. Adjustable means that we can adapt the number of pulses transmitted, depending on the area of application for the laser. Tactical means that the soldier can choose between different functions. The last part, Ranging Aiming Module means that BATRAM not only measures distance but also has a unit with a red aiming laser, like the ones you normally use in meetings. It also has an infra-red aiming laser which you cannot see with the naked eye, only if you are wearing night-vision glasses.”

The BATRAM 1550 is an essential part of the PROTECTOR remote wepon station. BATRAM is used in setup with day/night cameras enabling high degree of accuracy and situational awareness for the operator.

“And what is the area of application for the BATRAM 1550?”

“The range finder is used for weapon control systems. Today, we have sold several thousand laser range finders, so it has become quite an important industry.”

“But laser range finders are not really an innovation?”

“No, they’ve been used for many years. What’s special about BATRAM is that we have created a eye-safe laser range finder which still has an extremely long range. This is made possible by using an extremely powerful data processor which is quite unique.”

“You mean there is a computer inside the range finder?”

“That’s right. And it works hard to calculate all the data it receives. The light is made of energy particles we call photons. One laser pulse from BATRAM 1550 contains 3,000 billion photons. To put it in other words: Each pulse represents three fiscal budgets but all you get back with the reflection is NOK 15.”

“What happens to all the other photons?”

“They disappear into nothing. BATRAM can measure distances up to 10 km, and the laser beam is narrow so most of it hits its target. But when it is reflected back, it’s not narrow any more and heads off in all directions. Only a tiny fraction of the reflection is picked up. That’s why we need an extremely powerful data processor so we can work at such long ranges.”