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Technology to improve military defences

Military personnel could be better defended thanks to a £4 million plan to help soldiers assess their surroundings.

Researchers will develop new software to process information acquired from the huge range of sensors present in the modern battlefield - ranging from radar and sonar to mobile phones.

The aim of the five-year project is to enable operatives to quickly analyse risk and respond to threats.

Land, sea and air

The modern-day conflict zone is awash with sensors, from mobile phones to high-end radars. Operatives in the field need technology that can help to identify and assess threats, housed in computing equipment that is portable and easy to manage.

Mike DaviesDirector of the University Defence Research Collaboration

Engineers at the Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt, who are developing the systems, hope they will have potential applications for land, sea and airspace.

Researchers will seek to create software that can quickly and accurately assimilate signals from many sources over a wide area, enabling military personnel to respond rapidly when necessary.

Key challenges to be overcome include picking out significant signals, which may be faint, or overlapping, amid lots of background signal noise.

Shifting signals

Operatives also may need to track signals that are shifting, for example from moving objects under surveillance, or from changing radio frequencies.

Researchers will also aim to develop small, lightweight computer systems that can easily manage the large amounts of data produced in a military situation.

The five-year project, entitled Signal Processing in the Networked Battlespace, is led by the University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC) on Signal Processing.

It is funded by the Ministry of Defence and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Signal processing is a core technology for defence and is vital to successful sensing, information management and military decision making for space, air, land and maritime environments.

Andrew BairdDefence Science and Technology Laboratory Senior Fellow and UDRC Technical Lead