60 experts approximately from 5 nations (Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland) jointly trialed technology demonstrators developed under the EDA IED Detection programme (IEDDET) in October 2018, Austria. The joint trials aimed at data collection for all technology demonstrators developed within the IEDDET three projects VMEWI3, MUSICODE and CONFIDENT under the same operation conditions.
Joint test area
The Allentsteig test area for the EDA IEDDET programme joint trials was provided by Austria as contribution to the IEDDET programme. For these trials a special 500m test-lane, free of metal scrap was tailored and built for the MUSICODE field-test programme. For VMEWI3 two test lanes, each of 2000m length, were provided. On each these test lanes 15 georeferenced IEDs were buried. On the VMEWI3 test-lanes the full IED-vignettes were arranged.
Initial IEDDET projects observations
The objective of the VMEWI3 technology demonstrator is to provide early warning of indirect IED indicators by using a suite of forward looking camera systems on an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV). Real-time detection and decision fusion is applied to enhance the overall detection performance. The operator of the system is located in a moving manned vehicle following the unmanned detection platform at safe distance with the same speed, and will be able to confirm, reject and manually add detections.
For the first joint EDA IEDDET trial a demonstrator was developed consisting of a multi-camera head with nine tailormade camera systems each focusing on a specific set of indicators, such as ground signs, man-made objects and markers. The multi-camera head was mounted on a panning unit allowing the head to follow the road curvatures and to be aimed at a suspect object when halted for inspection. The multi-camera head, together with a highly accurate positioning system was mounted on an unmanned ground vehicle to provide stand-off. Both the multi-sensor head and the unmanned ground vehicle could be remotely controlled from a control vehicle. Single sensor detection algorithms were developed and also software to allow the detections of each camera to be registered to the same reference image for fusion. The highly accurate position and pose of the camera system is required to map the detected indicators in world coordinates on a map and decision processing.
During the trial synchronized data acquisition with all nine camera systems and the positioning system was achieved on four kilometers of test lane on which vignettes had been emplaced. Data was primarily collected with a manned UGV, up to speeds of 15km/h, to obtain maximum quality data for offline analysis, detection and fusion algorithm development in the coming year of the programme. Additionally, remote control of the UGV during data acquisition with the multi-sensor platform was demonstrated up to speeds of approximately 20km/h. The images of all nine cameras were remotely (wireless) displayed in the Control Vehicle. Real-time processing and depiction of multi-camera early warnings to an operator was achieved in simulation mode by replaying the recorded data as if in real-time and for live data on a static UGV. The trial results will be used to further develop detection and fusion algorithms and to achieve real-time early warning on a moving UGV. The detected indicators will be exchanged offline with the MUSICODE and CONFIDENT projects in EDA IEDDET Joint Detection Map (JDM).
The aim of the MUSICODE project is to demonstrate an improved Technology Readiness Level 5 multi sensor detection approach compared to available systems. Data from several sources will be used to enhance the capability of IED detection. Four different on-board sensor systems based on already known technologies, with the addition of existing detections from the VMEWI3 technology demonstrator as well as a priori available intelligence information. The goal is to combine this information to strengthen the confidence in (combined) alarms, and possibly reduce the false alarm rate.
Running several sensor systems on the same platform, with the addition of remote control and data links and high precision GPS positioning is particularly challenging with respect to cross talk and interference between systems. Preliminary interference anechoic chamber trials were already conducted at an earlier stage, and one of the main goals in Allentsteig was to repeat these trials under field conditions and with the inclusion of mitigation measures pointed out during the first lab experiments. A second goal was to obtain a realistic detection data set for each on-board sensor system. For this purpose, dedicated targets were produced and emplaced by the various teams. The third goal was to run the system with the tactical vignette targets also used by the other projects. This was performed partly on a completely clutter free test lane, and partly on the so-called tactical lane which was shared with the other teams. The combined IEDDET Programme data set will be used to discuss and implement the EDA IEDDET JDM solution. Finally, the Allentsteig trials resulted in the first shake-down of technical solutions in general terms, also with respect to mechanical design.
Participants to the 1rst joint IEDDET programme trials
The project CONFIDENT has the objective to provide demonstrator platforms of an UGV and an UAV, equipped with suitable sets of sensors for close-in confirmation and identification of IEDs. In addition, CONFIDENT will add airborne early-warning capabilities. These platforms will take action on IEDs already detected by VMEWI3 and MUSICODE, either after excavation in route-clearance scenarios or, if placed above-ground, particularly in urban scenarios including CBRNE-threat.
At the first joint EDA IEDDET trials the focus of the CONFIDENT test programme was on testing three newly developed sensors under field conditions. All sensors were operated mounted on the UGV. The scenario of an excavated IED was simulated by a dummy-IED. The UAV for close-in inspection was tested for the capability of airborne chemical detection. Two types of UAV have been tested with the different scenarios. Regarding airborne early warning capabilities, a software-tool is being developed to detect the defined IED indicators. The photographic material for this development has been collected by flights of the Schibel-Camcopter capturing scenarios provided by role-players. Additionally, airborne early warning capabilities have also been demonstrated with a swarm of drones.
Data and lessons learned from the 2018 trials will be used for information fusion and the next iteration of development towards the final EDA IEDDET trials and demonstration in 2019/2020.