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autonomous swarm of heterogeneous RObots for BORDER surveillance

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ROBORDER (autonomous swarm of heterogeneous RObots for BORDER surveillance)

Reporting period: 2017-05-01 to 2018-10-31

Currently, maritime and land EU borders face multiple and diverse threats that still lack efficient solutions to be handled including as for example drug smuggling and unauthorised border crossing. In order to prevent and detect such occurrences, cost-effective robotic platforms could be used to extend current border surveillance systems and enhance LEAs’ capabilities to face such events.

Although procurement of these types of solutions is increasing, LEAs still face difficulties in acquiring such products due to the inherent challenges regarding their integration with legacy systems. Therefore, EU Member States seek to procure interoperable solutions that are developed considering standardization initiatives. Such solutions enable a closer cooperation between different Member States and they allow LEAs to afford cost-effective solutions that enable a continued integration with their new systems without requiring substantial effort. Thus, the incremental building of surveillance systems is enabled based on the latest available technologies that can ensure high performance levels.

ROBORDER aims at developing and demonstrating a fully-functional autonomous border surveillance system which is based on previous standardization initiatives and will enable the integration of UxVs from different domains. A prototype of the system will be validated under real-like operational conditions, presenting a clear step forward regarding the multi-domain command and control of UxVs and respective integration with LEAs’ legacy systems, as well as enhance the current capabilities by innovating in terms of sensors and algorithms to process the data collected. At the end of the project, these results are expected to be validated by the end-user partners and other relevant stakeholders.
ROBORDER started in May 2017 and the present report comprises the period of work until October 2018. A brief description about the progress achieved the referred period is provided below per work packages.

WP1: The work concerned with the initial analysis and definition of requirements performed by the end-users, alongside the initial version of ConOps (D1.1). These preliminary versions are to be iterated during the second-half of the project.

WP2: The focus was on the definition of the communications architecture (D2.1) and the initial developments of the sensors (passive radar-T2.2 RF signal sensor-T2.3 and photonics-based radars-T2.6). Additionally, activities regarding an initial assessment of the sensors adaptability through simulations (T2.4) and the development of a carrier solution (T2.5) were performed. Initial developments were reported in D2.2.

WP3 and WP4: Corresponding work was related to the developments for (i) the detection and identification techniques and (ii) the navigation and support components, respectively. During this reporting period, several progresses were performed including the development of such algorithms and respective testing activities using simulated data.

WP5: The WP is focused on the definition of (i) a technological roadmap (D5.1) and (ii) the system architecture and technical system requirements (D5.2). Additionally, the first prototype that included preliminary versions of modules was delivered (D5.3) in order to test the proposed architecture, interfaces, data model and user interface; some integration activities were also performed within the scope of the WP.

WP6: The main work performed included the evaluation and preparation of the test-plan for the foreseen project demonstrations. Accordingly, evaluation methodology was defined (D6.1) an action for PUC was outlined (D6.2) the initial M&S based test bed was performed (D6.3) and, ultimately, the first evaluation on the 1st Prototype was delivered (D6.6).

WP7: The main focus was on the dissemination and communication activities envisaged for the project. The corresponding activities included the delivery of: dissemination plan (D7.1) project’s website and communication material (D7.2) the market analysis (D7.3) and, finally, the 1st dissemination report (D7.4).

WP8: In the context of this WP, all project management related activities are included meaning coordination of several activities, as well as administrative, contractual and financial activities. Under the scope of this WP, project management plan (D8.1) the self-assessment and data management plan (D8.2) and mid-term report (D8.3) were delivered.

WP9: Several reports with respect to the ethical aspects of the project were prepared, including a report from the External Ethical Advisor.
As ROBORDER is an IA project aiming at a high TRL solution, existing work was used as the baseline for the foreseen developments. The main outcome of the project will be a system capable of operating multi-domain robotic platforms under a border surveillance context. The main progresses beyond the SoA during this period were as follows:
1. Designing a standardizable multi-domain C2 system that enables the remote operation of UxVs (from aerial, land and maritime domains) – considering the most recent NATO initiatives on this field, the consortium decided to use NATO MDCS as the baseline for the ROBORDER System architecture. From this starting point, the team created a standardized Data Model based on SAE UCS3.4 which is focused on the aerial segment, and expand it to accommodate UxVs from maritime and land domains (currently under implementation). The development of proprietary protocol adaptors was pursued (including STANAG 4586, MAVLINK, IMC and ROS). This approach was partially validated at M18 through the delivery of the first set of modules, and it is seen as a progress beyond the current SoA.
2. Developing and integrating innovative hardware (sensors) and software (modules and services) parts that enable new concepts of operation for UxVs under this context – the project has a great focus on the development of innovative sensors to be mounted onboard UxV platforms (e.g. RF signal sensor, passive radar), as well as of detection and identification algorithms to process the data collected by the UxVs. Services aiming at the C2 functionalities are also foreseen. By combining all these at M34, the consortium considers that the overall system capabilities will be a clear progress beyond SoA.
3. Ensuring that the system is developed in such a way that interfacing with legacy C2 systems, as well as with other platform and/or service providers, is eased. Therefore, consortium intends to demonstrate the solution by integrating with the practitioners’ legacy systems during the latest stages of the project (between M34-46). Moreover, EUCISE2020 Data Model was also adopted as a complementary element to the ROBORDER Data Model in order to include the data structures that ensure the exchange of high-level information between the system and DG MARE CISE – following this approach, other legacy systems could be integrated in the future, which clearly indicates progress beyond SoA.

At the end of the project, the consortium expects to deliver a solution that is validated by LEAs under real operational conditions. The main expected impacts are the enhancement of UxV capabilities in terms of their performance and operability under border surveillance contexts. Moreover, the project can mark a step towards standardization initiatives on this domain, thus contributing to a wider adoption of such solutions across the EU.
High-level architecture of the ROBORDER System