The effect of directional antenna elements in uniform circular arrays (UCAs) for direction of arrival (DOA) estimation is studied in this paper. While the vast majority of previous work assumes isotropic antenna elements or omnidirectional dipoles, this work demonstrates that improved DOA estimation accuracy and increased bandwidth is achievable with appropriately-designed directional antennas. The Cramer-Rao Lower Bound (CRLB) is derived for UCAs with directional antennas and is compared to isotropic antennas for 4- and 8-element arrays using a theoretical radiation pattern. The directivity that minimizes the CRLB is identified and microstrip patch antennas approximating the optimal theoretical gain pattern are designed to compare the resulting DOA estimation accuracy with a UCA using dipole antenna elements. Simulation results show improved DOA estimation accuracy and robustness using microstrip patch antennas as opposed to conventional dipoles. Additionally, it is shown that the bandwidth of a UCA for DOA estimation is limited only by the broadband characteristics of the directional antenna elements and not by the electrical size of the array as is the case with omnidirectional antennas.

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IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation
Department of Systems and Computer Engineering

Jackson, B.R. (Brad R.), Rajan, S, Liao, B.J. (Bruce J.), & Wang, S. (Sichun). (2015). Direction of arrival estimation using directive antennas in uniform circular arrays. IEEE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, 63(2), 736–747. doi:10.1109/TAP.2014.2384044