Critical Review of Basic Methods on DoA Estimation of EM Waves Impinging a Spherical Antenna Array

Oluwole John Famoriji, Thokozani Shongwe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Direction‐of‐arrival (DoA) estimation of electromagnetic (EM) waves impinging on a spherical antenna array in short time windows is examined in this paper. Reflected EM signals due to non‐line‐of‐sight propagation measured with a spherical antenna array can be coherent and/or highly correlated in a snapshot. This makes spectral‐based methods inefficient. Spectral methods, such as maximum likelihood (ML) methods, multiple signal classification (MUSIC), and beamforming methods, are theoretically and systematically investigated in this study. MUSIC is an approach used for frequency estimation and radio direction finding, ML is a technique used for estimating the parameters of an assumed probability distribution for given observed data, and PWD applies a Fourier transform to the capture response and produces them in the frequency domain. Although they have been previously adapted and used to estimate DoA of EM signals impinging on linear and planar antenna array configurations, this paper investigates their suitability and effectiveness for a spherical antenna array. Various computer simulations were conducted, and plots of root-mean‐square error (RMSE) against the square root of the Cramér–Rao lower bound (CRLB) were generated and used to evaluate the performance of each method. Numerical experiments and results from measured data show the degree of appropriateness and efficiency of each method. For instance, the techniques exhibit identical performance to that in the wideband scenario when the frequency f = 8 GHz, f = 16 GHz, and f = 32 GHz, but f = 16 GHz performs best. This indicates that the difference between the covariance matrix of the signal is coherent and that the steering vectors of signals impinging from that angle are small. MUSIC and PWD share the same problems in the single‐frequency scenario as in the wideband scenario when the delay sample d = 0. Consequently, the DoA estimation obtained with ML techniques is more suitable, less biased, and more robust against noise than beamforming and MUSIC techniques. In addition, deterministic ML (DML) and weighted subspace fitting (WSF) techniques show better DoA estimation performance than the stochastic ML (SML) technique. For a large number of snapshots, WSF is a better choice because it is more computationally efficient than DML. Finally, the results obtained indicate that WSF and ML methods perform better than MUSIC and PWD for the coherent or partially correlated signals studied.

Original languageEnglish
Article number208
JournalElectronics (Switzerland)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Cramér–Rao lower bound (CRLB)
  • Direction‐of‐arrival (DoA) estimation
  • Maximum likelihood (ML)
  • Root‐mean‐square error (RMSE)
  • Spherical antenna array (SAA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Signal Processing
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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