Australian company Sentient has demonstrated its ViDAR airborne optical radar system to European maritime surveillance agencies, with a ViDAR equipped Insitu ScanEagle RPAS detecting and tracking small boats and people in the water on a trial at Huelva, Spain in May.
Representatives of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) saw the ViDAR equipped ScanEagle detect and cue a range of representative targets over a broad search area, on mission’s representative of border control, anti-drug trafficking, illegal fishing detection and search and rescue operations.
During the evaluation, ViDAR successfully autonomously detected all targets, including fast RIB’s, fishing vessels, rubber rafts and people in the water. Using ViDAR, the ScanEagle detected fishing vessels out beyond 14 nautical miles and a life raft in 35 knot winds with 6 feet swells in a very short time period.
ViDAR is Sentient’s airborne high-resolution digital surveillance system, scanning a 180-degree arc ahead of an air vehicle and autonomously detecting, tracking and alerting ground-based operators to surface contacts in real time.
Added to ScanEagle as a plug-and-play modular airframe “slice”, ViDAR provides ground stations with an image and location coordinate of each detected object, allowing operators to detect, classify and identify targets in seconds and cross-cue the spotter sensor for closer inspection if desired.
ViDAR enables over 80 times the sortie area coverage of existing optical systems, effectively turning small Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems into effective wide area surveillance assets.
“Illegal fishing along with Search and Rescue are some of the challenges facing Europe at the moment, rightly forming a big part of this evaluation in Spain” said Simon Olsen, Sentient’s Director of Business Development, Strategy and Partnerships.
During illegal fishing demonstrations, ViDAR not only successfully detected the fishing buoys placed by EMSA for the evaluation, but managed to detect over 50 others in the process that happened to be out that afternoon. ViDAR consistently and persistently detected vessels, fishing buoys, rafts and people in the water in a wide variety of weather and environmental conditions. “Fast detection by ViDAR of these tiny targets over vast areas of ocean is set to change the game back in favor of the authorities in the protection of Europe’s fishing stocks and the safety of people lost at sea” said Olsen.
The trial in Spain follows on from similar demonstrations as a part of Unmanned Warrior to the Royal Navy in October 2016 and to the US Coast Guard in September 2016.