Penguin detection technology could benefit radar operators

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Technology employed to detect faces and penguin markings in the Antarctic is being adapted for the benefit of military radar operators.

Frazer-Nash has been working on a project for the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to explore the benefits of using a mathematical technique called a ‘cascade classifier’ on standard synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) images commonly used in the military.

According to a statement, this can help to detect relevant objects on a radar screen and feed this information back to operators. This could help to improve operator concentration and to reduce potential stress caused by analysing irrelevant information.

The technology, which can be used on any existing SAR system, analyses radar information in real time and is claimed to be extremely energy efficient, meaning it is ideal for use in many different environments, both static and mobile.

It is also low cost, so could become a cost-effective addition to military radar systems in the future once testing has been completed later in 2012.

Sam Dugelay at Frazer-Nash, who was responsible for leading the project, said: ‘At any point while working in the field, a radar operator can be met with a large amount of data on a radar screen that needs to be quickly analysed, and a decision made as a result.

‘What the cascade classifier brings to operators within the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is an aid to more effectively filter out unnecessary information that they encounter.

‘Conservationists working in the Antarctic have been successfully using a similar technique for many years to identify individual penguins from within a large colony.

‘What we have done is look at how the technique can be used in a defence context to help radar operators prioritise more effectively. The approach could benefit those in the field as well as those in training.’

The technology was demonstrated today at the Dstl’s Centre for Defence Enterprise Showcase.

Frazer-Nash is also showcasing its ExFix bike at the event, which has been developed for the MoD’s Headley Court. The bike has been specifically developed to aid victims of blast injuries whose rehabilitation is restricted by the external fixator cages used to set complex bone fractures.