Advanced Vision for 2020 and Beyond: Electro-Optics and Infrared
Electro-Optic and Infrared (EOIR) sensors are a key military capability used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, threat warning, target detection and more. A particularly important attribute of EOIR sensors is high image resolution, which is critical for accurate identification of objects of interest. Additionally, EOIR sensors offer a complementary approach to radio frequency sensors, being able to detect objects in environments where radar is challenged (e.g. urban clutter), or to operate against objects that have a naturally lower radar signature (small and slow moving). The ever evolving nature of military operations means that we wish to invest in novel and resilient technologies that can function in contested/congested environments, that will extend the range, lower the cost and size, and expand the range of targets that can be addressed by EOIR sensors.
This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition, run on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), aims to develop and demonstrate a number of novel technologies or applications in the area of EOIR to address the future need for highly capable and affordable sensors.
We expect to fund two distinct types of work:
short term investigations into existing concepts lasting no more than 9 months – we would expect to fund up to 10 of these in Phase 1
longer term ‘deep-dive’ investigations into novel materials or disruptive concepts with a maximum duration of 2 years. We would expect to fund up to 3 of these in Phase 1. Note that we will only fund work of this long term nature for topics that offer a significant step-change in either performance and/or cost/size/power
For both types of work within Phase 1, we are looking for delivery of proof of concept demonstrations (early maturity / Technology Readiness Level (TRL)) that show feasibility for application to defence relevant application areas, some of which are suggested below.
We would like to focus on the following three key challenge areas. All sensors and technologies must operate from the Ultra Violet (UV) to the Far Infrared (IR) range.
Challenge 1 – Novel Optics and Materials – which may include but are not limited to:
- metamaterials or nano-photonics that allow switchable or tuneable properties like refractive index or absorption/polarisation
- low cost multiband optics and their associated coatings
- new concepts for lightweight rapid pointing of lasers and sensors
- novel optical components including lasers, lenses, detectors, modulators, polarisers, filters etc., which are switchable/tuneable/multiband
Challenge 2 – Novel Sensors– which may include but are not limited to:
- novel detector materials addressing multiple wavebands, or photon counting in the IR range
- temporal sensing/event based read-out
- neuromorphic sensors
- novel LiDAR, synthetic aperture LiDAR, passive aperture synthesis, covert LiDAR
- very low cost/novel integration of Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) products
Challenge 3 – Embedded/Edge Processing applied to EOIR sensing– which may include but is not limited to:
- machine learning for sensor and image improvement or image interpretation
- rapid extraction of 3D imagery from low photon LiDAR data
- semantic extraction of information in real time
- novel approaches to structured light or modulated illumination imaging
- adaptable/autonomous processing concepts that can adapt to changing imagery and extract information appropriately
- very low power embedded image processing (for remote ‘on-the-man’ systems)
- low cost distributed sensing
- multifunction concepts for sensors
Example applications for solutions include:
- imaging in difficult environments – such as through cloud or smoke, atmospheric turbulence, extreme low/no light, through foliage or camouflage
- detecting and identifying difficult to distinguish objects passively and actively in low light/no light/different wavebands (UV – LWIR) at long range – such as small slow air targets like drones, snipers, small
- high velocity objects in wide field of view, man portable guided weapons, concealed surveillance sensors, individuals (faces and other features)/weapons/vehicles (number plates and other features)
- identifying objects at extreme long range (»20km) – such as a specific kind of vehicle belonging to an adversary vs. a friendly vehicle. Identification means gathering sufficient information about an object to be able to classify it in a way that supports further military actions
- real time assistance for situational awareness – such as when dealing with a large number of objects in a scene (urban environment, crowded sea lanes in the littoral environment etc.) there is a critical need to rapidly extract objects of most interest/represent threats to allow users to prioritise efforts
The total funding for this competition is expected to be at least £2.5m, split over multiple phases. The total funding for Phase 1 is expected to be at least £1.25m.
This DASA competition is currently planned to open in August 2019 when the full competition document will be released. Proposals must be submitted to the DASA submission service, for which you will have to register.
DASA will be holding a launch event for this competition on 4 September 2019, where there will be the opportunity to hear a presentation on the EOIR Programme and the competition, collaborate with other companies and have a 1-2-1 session with the project team. You can register for this event on Eventbrite – click here. (Book early – registration may close if the event is full up or in order to allow security checks on attendees.)