NATO held an exhibition to mark the 60th anniversary of the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme. Prototypes of the most promising technologies were displayed at NATO’s Headquarters by 25 scientists from NATO and partner countries who presented their research and results to other scientists, diplomats and officials
The prototypes address some of NATO’s key security development needs, such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, the protection of critical infrastructure and defence against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents. Created in 1958, NATO’s SPS Programme sponsors research activities organised between scientists from Allied nations and partner countries across the world. Over the past decade, the SPS Programme has initiated nearly 800 collaborative activities among the Alliance’s 29 member states and 41 partner countries, ranging from cyber defence in Jordan to humanitarian demining in Ukraine. Some of the prototypes presented at the event can be discovered below.
Detecting landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)
A semi-autonomous robot is used to detect mines and IEDs. Named ‘U-GO First’, it is designed to prevent casualties in search of explosives and to use robots instead. It makes use of new impulse radar and 3D data for real-time detection that distinguishes dangerous targets from harmless clutter. The prototype has been developed and successfully tested in a controlled outdoor environment with buried landmine simulants. The project is led by Italy, Ukraine and the United States.
Detecting cover threats on persons at stand-off ranges
This technology detects covert threats on persons, such as explosives and weapons, and is based on low-cost detectors. It uses a 3D millimetre-wave imaging system together with detection techniques, software, and algorithms necessary to operate the detectors. The project is led by Israel and Turkey.
Protecting military and law enforcement personnel
This project, led by Canada and Ukraine, aims to protect military and law enforcement personnel against acts of terrorism perpetrated by individuals who often adopt a civilian disguise to inflict as much damage as possible. It is based on a compact, portable (possibly wearable) warning system for the stand-off detection of on-body concealed weapons. The system could also be used to protect security professionals, such as guards.
Detecting firearms and explosives in mass transit environments
This technology detects firearms or explosives concealed by a person in public transport systems, such as airports and train stations, without disturbing the flow of passengers. Led by France, the Republic of Korea and Ukraine, the project focuses on the design, development and testing of a radar-based imaging device for the stand-off detection of explosives and firearms. The project integrates off-the-shelf high-performance microwave modules and develops specific signal processing algorithms in order to reconstruct images of objects carried by moving persons and automatically recognise dangerous objects.
Detecting traces of explosives
A system is developed to detect in real-time traces of explosives and their precursors on surfaces using a laser spectroscopy. Led by Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Serbia and Ukraine, the project is part of a NATO initiative to build a system capable of detecting explosives and concealed weapons in real-time and securing mass transport infrastructure, such as airports and metro and railway stations.
Enhancing border and port security
Researchers from Australia, Croatia, Japan, Portugal and Slovenia are engineering silicon carbide for enhanced border and port security. The aim of this cutting-edge project – known as e-SiCure – is to detect illicit trafficking of nuclear materials across borders using nuclear screening systems. Silicon carbide, or SiC, is one of the most promising semiconductor materials for the latest generation of detectors. It is non-toxic and non-hazardous and can be produced at low cost. Unlike existing and commonly used gas-based neutron detectors, SiC-based devices have the potential to be simultaneously portable, operable at room temperature and radiation-hard.
Securing marine infrastructures
A research team led by Canada, Israel and Spain is developing an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to secure marine infrastructure from the threat of intruders under water and submerged mines. The system will comprise a marine platform actively scanning a given area using acoustic signals in order to detect the presence of divers and an AUV that will investigate whether intruders released any mines or other explosive ordnance in the area. The images acquired by the AUV will be segmented and processed locally, and a summary of the results will be sent back to a nearby control centre using acoustic communications.
High-altitude balloon-borne radar
A miniaturised radar system is mounted on a novel platform employing high-altitude balloons. During NATO operations and missions, getting the right information at the right time to the right person can save lives. The system will be able to provide images of designated areas at high resolution to detect potential adversaries and to identify and classify potential targets. The proposed system will be low-cost and easily deployable.
Combating icing issues in extreme maritime conditions
An innovative system is built to combat icing issues in extreme maritime conditions that can have an impact on communications, antennas, dishes or means of transportation such as vessels operating in extreme, low-temperature seas. Led by Belgium, Canada and Ukraine, the project is based on an innovative cost-effective thermo-electric system that detects ice formation and can reverse the process.
Rapid skin wound healing
An artificial human disposable skin or mucosa patches have been developed for immediate applications in case of medical emergency. These patches will provide fast relief to civilians or military personnel injured by chemical or physical agents destroying for example their skin or other surface tissues. Also called ‘RAWINTS’ for ‘Rapid Skin Wound healing by Integrated Tissue engineering and Sensing’, this project is led by Belgium, Japan, Italy and Spain.