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System for detection of Threat Agents in Maritime Border Environment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SafeShore (System for detection of Threat Agents in Maritime Border Environment)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-12-31

Recent years have seen the dramatic rise of the use of drones by governments, consumers and – unfortunately – also by terrorists and criminals. Indeed, these new technological tools provide also a threat in the hands of people with bad intentions. Their low cost makes small drones a favourite platform for smugglers and terrorists. The Radar Cross Section of these systems is too small to be detected by the regular costal radars, which is where SafeShore comes in.

Within the SafeShore project, 12 consortium partners from 7 countries worked together to develop an integrated system for the detection of threat agents in a maritime border environment. The SafeShore system integrates a 3D and 2D LIDAR with passive acoustic sensors, passive radio detection, multiple camera systems and video analytics. Intelligent data fusion combines data input from different types of sensors and thus enables Safeshore stakeholders to easily spot smaller targets and their remote-control equipment, small vessels or humans coming to shore. The SafeShore system has been put to the test in a series of trials on costs of Belgium, Israel and Romania. The results of these trials showed great potential for the developed technology and its further exploitation and commercialisation.
The foremost potential impact of the project is in improving the security level of the shore lines of the European Continent. The SafeShore detection mechanism can in the future provide answers to the problems related to the economics of securing coastal borders. Indeed, protecting whole shorelines with expensive RADAR technology may not be economically viable. The project has developed potentially more affordable methods and mechanisms for securing maritime borders that are user friendly for the operators and easy to maintain.

Beyond the scope of pure maritime border security, a second impact of the SafeShore project is that it provides a means to fill the yet-to-be-closed gap between regulation and law enforcement capacity. Indeed, everywhere in Europe, regulations are now put into place to give drones access to airspace and the police forces are requested to regulate this access to airspace. However, the police forces do not have the means to detect illegal activities. The SafeShore system could provide a solution by enabling the detection of illegal operations.
The project started out with the definition of the user requirements, scenarios and target performance levels for the SafeShore system. At the same time, the legal framework was investigated.

As no single sensing modality is able to reach the required levels of performance, a multi-modal sensing solution was developed. For each of these sensing modalities, the necessary novel hardware and threat detection software was developed.

Within SafeShore, both a 2-dimensional laser detector and a 3-dimensional laser detector were developed. The 2-dimensional detector scans for threats on the sea surface, whereas the 3-dimensional detector is capable to detect airborne threats. It is worth noting that the 3-dimensional laser drone detector which has been developed in this project is the first one in the world.

Another sensing methodology developed within the SafeShore project is a passive radio detection system, that is able to localize radio-signal-emitting threats. An interesting aspect of this type of detection modality is that it delivers the opportunity to detect and localize at the same time both the threat agent and its remote operator.

An array of multiple microphones was developed as a third sensing modality within the SafeShore project. An advantage of the acoustics sensing technique is that it offers not only the opportunity to detect and localize the targets, but to an extent also to classify and identify the threat agents.

Finally, an entirely new electro-optical sensing platform was developed as a supportive sensing modality. This platform consists of a robust all-weather pan-tilt-zoom system with three integrated camera systems: a daylight camera, an infrared camera and a “gated” camera system that allows to see through fog. Novel video analytics algorithms were also developed that enable the fully automatic detection, classification and tracking of threat agents based on the camera data.

The most important work within the SafeShore project has therefore been the development of an intelligent data fusion algorithm that acts as the glue between all the SafeShore developments and makes sense of the very different sensor measurements and presents a globally consistent and correct interpretation of the state of the environment and threat agents present.

All SafeShore sensing modalities, hardware and software components were integrated in three mobile deployable platforms. In order to ensure that SafeShore provides a pan-European solution, the integrated sensor prototype platforms were validated in three “seas”: the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea to detect intruding drones, boats, crafts and swimmers. The results of these validation trials show that the SafeShore solution presents a viable complimentary threat detection modality to the classical RADAR-based solutions.

A business plan for the commercialization of SafeShore results was set up and work is currently being performed to enable to push the technology readiness level of the SafeShore integrated detector prototype from the current technology readiness level of 6 to the market. In parallel, multiple of the SafeShore individual sensing modalities are already on the way to commercialization, with patent applications under review concerning the SafeShore 3D LIDAR technology, the camera platform, the command and control system and the lenses.

The results of the project have been disseminated in controlled and regulated manner. The project website is regularly updated. Dissemination is also done through social media channels, events, workshops, distribution and display of printed material, newsletters, publications and press media.
As a research and innovation action, the objective of the SafeShore project was to push the state of the art in terms of sensing hardware, sensing software and in the domain of data fusion as follows:
- 3D LIDAR: A whole new sensor has been developed, which is the very first in the world
- Passive Radio: Novel processing algorithms have been developed to precisely localize threat agents and operators
- Acoustics: Novel processing algorithms have been developed to precisely localize and classify threat agents
- Electro-optical: 3 cameras have been integrated on a novel pan-tilt-zoom platform, including a novel gated camera system. Novel integrated video analytics algorithms have been developed that allow for the detection and classification of threat agents.
- Data fusion: Novel data combination algorithms have been developed that solve the problem of providing a common operation picture and a precise and robust detection and tracking of threat agents.
- Command and control: A novel command and control interface has been developed, allowing fully autonomous and also human operation.

In terms of technological innovation, the objective of the SafeShore project was to develop three novel integrated sensor platforms. These sensors integrated mobile platforms have been delivered and validated in realistic conditions and present a physical and tangible outcome of the project.
SafeShore detector installed at the beach in Belgium during the North Sea trial
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