Modular autonomous sensing could become part of the UK’s defence strategy to help reduce the burden of operators involved in perimeter protection and security.
Work is being carried out in a government-industry venture jointly funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Innovate UK.
It is believed that an autonomous, modular sensor system could be a game-changer for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and security industry.
The Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) project is looking to reduce the data burden for operators of security systems such as CCTV, by adopting new technologies that help monitor and interpret that data.
SAPIENT has demonstrated a modular hierarchical autonomous sensor system that does this with individual sensors making low-level decisions autonomously, such as which direction to look or whether to zoom in, in order to fulfil a higher-level objective.
These higher-level objectives are managed by a decision making module which controls the overall system and makes some of the decisions normally made by the operators.
SAPIENT showcased the system that included four types of autonomous sensor modules and a high level decision making module linked together by a middleware software architecture developed and integrated by QinetiQ.
At the demonstration the system performed sensor cueing, intelligent information fusion, sensor tasking, target hand-off and compensation for compromised sensors, all without human control.
Dstl and Innovate UK are now working with the industry partners on opportunities to exploit these technologies further for military and civilian security applications.
Paul Thomas, Principal Scientist, Dstl said: "The technologies demonstrated through SAPIENT have shown that autonomous modular sensors can be developed. This is an important step forward in enabling sensors to ‘plug and play’ and allowing operators to focus on the task in hand rather than sifting through large amounts of data.
"This concept could have significant benefit both in the area of civil security such as the protection of infrastructure and in military systems such as for base protection."