Tree Radar, Inc.
Much like an MRI solves a critical medical need for very high-resolution, non-invasive imaging of the body, the Tree Radar Unit (TRU™) radar imaging system creates the same type of high-resolution, non-invasive image of the internal structure of a tree and its root mass. This image fills a critical gap in the quantitative analysis of tree health and structural integrity. TreeRadar has developed the patented TRU system for tree diagnosis that represents a novel application of ground penetrating radar (GPR) technology. GPR is an established technology that is used worldwide to non-destructively investigate subsurface objects. Here, `subsurface` means `below the bark`, i.e., inside the solid wood, or `below the grade`, i.e., root bed, for the trunk and subsurface scans, respectively.
Decay entering the tree trunk from the ground (or sometimes advancing down from above) creates an air pocket in the removed wood space. The air pocket can be either a total hollow, or a very early stage of decay where the wood consistency has changed but no visible hollow has yet appeared. The TRU system is sensitive to, and can detect, both conditions, including difficult-to-detect early stage decay. TRU can also detect internal cracks and cracks that have progressed to the outer surface, but are not yet visible.
Most trees fall over because of compromised roots. The TRU system can non-invasively inspect soils - either covered or uncovered - to provide images of the layout and density of subsurface structural roots.
This new, advanced technology represents a significant economic advantage for companies, individuals, and organizations because more accurate decisions translate to less legal liability, more revenue for tree care companies, and higher customer satisfaction.
Owning such a powerful diagnostic tool provides a competitive edge to those companies that recognize the benefits of this cutting-edge technology.
By definition, a hazardous or high risk tree is one with a high likelihood of falling onto a 'target'. The target can either be nearby people or property.
For the homeowner, property values, in many cases, are often significantly affected by the size and health of trees on the property. TRU provides a method for assessing the health of the trees, a valuable asset in the buying/home inspection stage.
The image to the right shows a tree blown over onto a house by Hurricane Isabel on September, 2003 due to compromised roots in Silver Spring, MD.
TreeRadar, Inc. was incorporated in 2003 with the objective of commercializing its TRU™ (Tree Radar Unit) non-invasive tree trunk and subsurface structural roots inspection system. A patent for this novel application of ground-penetrating radar was issued earlier in the year.
TreeRadar's founder and President is Dr. Tony Mucciardi who has thirty years experience in the non-destructive evaluation (NDE) field. Tony has specialized in signal processing work throughout his career in non-invasive sensors. He is a Visiting Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, where he teaches a senior undergraduate course in Non-Destructive Evaluation, and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences & Landscape Architecture of the University of Maryland. Tony was among the first to introduce waveform signal processing methods into the field of ultrasonic NDE. In 1984 he formed the start-up company, Infometrics, Inc., to develop the (at that time) novel idea of using PCs as an instrument base. His work led to the development of the first PC-based digital ultrasonic non-destructive inspection instrument which was sold under the trade name TestPro. Over 135 TestPro systems were sold world-wide during the next eight years primarily to aerospace companies who have a strong need for highly accurate and digitally traceable inspection instrumentation. Many TestPro systems are still in industrial operation at present.
The idea for the TRU system grew out of the TestPro system which placed emphasis on a highly advanced and portable inspection instrumentation package that was state-of-the art yet relatively easy to use. The key to customer acceptance for TRU, like it was for TestPro, is to be able to train field personnel to optimally use and feel comfortable with the equipment who are not necessarily skilled in its internal operation. Their main interest is in arboricultural matters and they should treat this system as a tool in their risk assessment analyses.
The TRU system has been under constant development for the past six years. The initial emphasis was on trunks inspection and the current emphasis is on roots inspection. Both capabilities of the system will continue to evolve as system owners use the equipment and feedback their experience and desired upgrades. The TreeRadar technical team welcomes and values this feedback because of the partnership we develop with our customers.