NATO tests passive and active tracking of small UAVs in urban environments

Electro-optical sensors were among tracking devices used during six days of testing at France’s Centre d’entrainement aux actions en zone urbaine (Cenzub) as part of a wider NATO programme exploring the use of passive and active technologies to detect Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which pose a threat. Gradiant provided the intelligent video analysis technology for the detection and surveillance trials. NATO Science and Technology Organisation is managing the SET-260 programme which runs from 2018 to 2021 to test technologies in the infrared, near-infrared and/or visible bands such as FLIR thermal cameras and other sensors in the visible RGB spectrum. The tests focus on the urban environment where the background is non-uniform and varies over time and where NATO’s Research Task Group (RTG) is evaluating the strengths and limitations of electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) techniques to sense UAVs. RTG plans to collect a sharable databank of calibrated data that can used for the development of UAVs tracking and recognition algorithms.

The programme focuses on micro UAVs with a mass less than 5 kg, and mini UAVs with a mass less than 150 kg. The remotely controlled aspect of the UAVs and their payload, that can reach 10 kg, are suitable for hostile activities, such as spying and targeting. As these UAVs become threats, it is important to be able to detect them sufficiently in advance to counter them. Moreover, these UAVs have low radar cross section which represents a challenge for conventional radar technologies. In addition to their small cross-section, these small UAVs could exhibit high relative acceleration and speed which make them harder to track.

The technologies deployed during the trial include, but is not limited to: Active imagery in the SWIR NIR and VIS bands; scanning LIDAR; and passive, multispectral or wide band imagery in the LWIR, MWIR, SWIR, NIR and VIS bands.

(Image: Gradiant)

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