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Activity title

Assessment of EO/IR Technologies for Detection of Small UAVs in an Urban Environment

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Sensors & Electronics Technology

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Active imaging, Counter Terrorism, detection, Drone, EO, IR, IRST, LIDAR, NIR, Optical Augmentation, UAV, Urban scenarios, VIS


Over the past year, there has been a multiplication of small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), optimized for increasing numbers of applications such as commercial surveillance (road patrol, home security, border control, etc.), surveying, filmmaking or simply recreational use. The categories which are highly proliferating are refereed as micro and mini UAVs, with a mass less than 5 kg for the micro and up to 150 kg for the mini UAVs. They can have flight endurance up to 2 hours, a range of operations up to 10 km at a flight altitude below 300 m. The remotely controlled aspect of the UAVs and their payload, that can reach 10 kg, are suitable for hostile activities, such as spying, targeting, etc. As these UAVs become threats, it is important to be able to detect them sufficiently in advance to counter them. Moreover, these UAVs have low radar cross section which represents a challenge for conventional radar technologies. In addition to their small cross-section, these small UAVs could exhibit high relative acceleration and speed which make them harder to track. Passive and active technologies in the infrared, near-infrared and/or visible bands can potentially help detecting UAVs, especially in urban environments where the background is highly non-uniform and is varying over time. An evaluation of the performances of electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) techniques to sense UAVs in a realistic scenario is required to identify the strength and limitations of the EO/IR technologies. This Research Task Group (RTG) will allow the participating NATO countries to leverage from their national activities in EO/IR detection of UAVs. The main objective for the proposed RTG is to organize a joint field trial where participating nations will acquire and share calibrated signatures of backgrounds and flying UAVs in different optical bands and using different techniques. The results will allow a high level evaluation of the technologies and a sharable databank of calibrated data that will be further used for the development of UAVs tracking and recognition algorithms.


The RTG aims at bringing together experts in EO/IR detection among the NATO community to share knowledge and data on different EO/IR technologies for the detection of mini and micro UAVs in an urban environment. This will be achieved by conducting a joint field trial with different sensor systems and UAVs where measurements of UAV and background signatures will be taken. The RTG will define a data format, minimum metadata and calibration data to be saved prior the trials in order to ensure that the shared data among the participating nations will be exploitable for further development of algorithms and models.


The RTG will create a unique possibility of deploying different EO/IR technologies in a joint trial to collect signature data during the same scenarios and in the same conditions. The technologies to be deployed during the trial will include, but is not limited to: • Active imagery in the SWIR NIR and VIS bands; • Scanning LIDAR; • Passive, Multispectral or Wide band imagery in the LWIR, MWIR, SWIR, NIR and VIS bands.

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