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autonomous swarm of heterogeneous RObots for BORDER surveillance

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ROBORDER (autonomous swarm of heterogeneous RObots for BORDER surveillance)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2020-04-30

Land and sea EU borders frequently face diverse threats where accurate solutions are still lacking. Cross-border crimes, jamming attacks, environmental and pollution incidents are some indicative threats that border authorities have to consider. Patrolling such areas is being hurdled by various factors like adverse weather conditions, wideness of areas and/or the complexity of the operational environments. To identify such events, cost-effective robotic platforms can be used to expand the current border surveillance capacities. To this objective, ROBORDER aims to develop and demonstrate an autonomous border surveillance system of unmanned mobile robots (aerial, sea and ground) along with a variety of sensors as part of an interoperable network. As the system relies on standard initiatives, it enables the integration of different components and UxVs; therefore, providing a wide range of operational settings and a complete situational awareness overview. The system's prototypes will be evaluated under real operational scenarios to present the system’s capacities such as commanding various UxVs, detection models etc.
The project started on 05/2017 while the report covers the duration from 11/2018 to 04/2020. Current status is briefly described as below:
User requirements and pilot use cases (WP1): Initial requirements were elicited to be updated based on the Pilot Use Case scenarios and the overall progress. KPIs were also refined to meet the updated user requirements. The submission of the final requirements is pending as they need to be iterated after the execution of the first trial (postponed to November 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic).
Sensing, robotics, and communication technologies (WP2): The core activities include the developments for any hardware component. During the first period, developments were focused on providing the first sensor prototypes while they have been finalized during the second period. The incorporated sensors and the additional installations were upgraded and evaluated. For the evaluation process, real trials will provide all the required data.
Detection and identification of border-related threats (WP3): The initial versions of the detection services were delivered. During this reporting period, all necessary detection model developments were finalized while most integration activities were almost completed. The models were also adapted following the end-user requirements.
Command and control unit functionalities (WP4): Part of WP4 has been initially prototyped during the first period. Most services were finalized while their integration has been completed. Towards improving the system's usability, adaptations were applied on the front-end framework also.
Integration of ROBORDER platform (WP5): The first period has been concluded by partially testing the first prototype while at the second period, the consortium completed its delivery. All technical gaps have been covered and an updated architecture has been delivered along with the second prototype. The first on-the-field demonstration is pending and scheduled to be performed on November 2020.
Demonstration & Evaluation (WP6): KPIs and the evaluation methodology have been developed in the first period. During the second period, KPIs were refined while the developments of the training courses were continued. Some functionalities were partially tested in simulated environments, as Covid-19 affected their smooth execution.
Dissemination & Exploitation (WP7): The focus was on the dissemination and the communication activities envisaged for the project. The consortium created synergies with other projects for knowledge and experience exchange. Many partners have participated in webinars and remote workshops to present the project on broader audiences. Despite the main focus includes the engagement of the end users, valuable feedback from technical partners was also collected for a more complete overview.
Project Management (WP8): As the coordination was allocated to CERTH, a recovery plan was the main focal point to identify all technical issues and substitute the former coordinator. To this end, updated periodic/termination reports and GA amendments were submitted. Finally, CERTH mobilized both the project's Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) and Security Advisory Board (SAB) to ensure a proper circulation of the produced information.
Ethics (WP9): A new ethics-related plan was submitted by CERTH to update the ethics requirements. Among others, matters such as recruitment, collection of informed consents, data protection and privacy were refined to better reflect the needs of the consortium ensuring, though, compliance with EU and national legislation.
The main progresses beyond SoA can be summarized as follows:
1. Upgrade and integration of innovative hardware components: The consortium has identified early border agencies' needs thus, the assessment has been concluded with the required hardware components. To expand existing specifications, each partner performed a thorough analysis and delivered upgraded modules as from a research study. Indicatively, the improvements of the photonics radar network have been reported in various conferences/workshops and scientific journals.
2. Design and integration of novel detection models. Following the end-user guidelines, technical management has specified the necessary detection algorithms, data streams and illegal events that are of interest. Every involved partner established the required scientific base, proposed new and updated designs and completed the required developments during this period. Scientific advances have similarly reported in numerous peer reviewed journals and conferences. As for example, beyond SoA detection models involved advances in oil spill identification, object detection from visual data, prevention of cyber-physical attacks etc.
3. Standardization of a C2 system. To deploy an operator friendly front-end framework, the ROBORDER interaction interface incorporates novel services that facilitates the operational effort and increase the operator’s situation awareness. In addition, a novel navigational system has been developed and extensively tested based on which numerous unmanned vehicles execute higher-level commands. In addition, the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) has been extended so that it could incorporate land scenarios as well (currently only maritime events are supported) and increase the operator's awareness. The expanded model has been delivered to the research community via an Open Access Journal publication where the developed ontologies have been described. Similar advances have also been reported in scientific conferences for Augmented and Virtual Reality etc.
ROBORDER aims at creating a novel system that will serve as an enhancement to current technologies and will have a direct impact on Border Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies’ capabilities. More specifically, the expected impact is to: (i) enhance the protection of human lives exposed at land and sea, (ii) improve the identification of illegal activities, (iii) improve search and rescue operations and (iv) enhance environmental protection. Towards these goals ROBORDER will result into: (i) the provision of a complete border security solution using various unmanned vehicles, (ii) surveillance with a photonics radar network, (iii) identification of cyber physical attacks and (iv) signals’ identifications.