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Using polarisation to help detect deadly trip-wires

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June 3, 2007

Polarisation technology shows up the hidden trip wires in the image.

Polarisation technology shows up the hidden trip wires in the image.

Image Gallery (2 images)

June 4, 2007 Silent, unmoving, millimetre-thin and extremely difficult to see, trip and command wires are frequently found on land mines, conventional munitions and many improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In a bid to increase troop and civilian safety in war zones, defense contractor QinetiQ has been given a UK£800,000 contract to produce and evaluate portable tripwire detection devices based on polarization technology that's showing positive results.

QinetiQ's latest project aims to develop a fieldable non miniaturised electro optic sensor, demonstrating its robustness and effectiveness against a number of prioritized operational scenarios, background and clutter environments, tripwire samples and weather conditions.

“This research project is an important step in trying to automate the detection of tripwires,” said Simon Gadd, the Mobility Integrated Project Team Leader. He added: “The project aims to identify the optimum means of optical detection and ultimately to help develop a reliable, portable system which can rapidly detect tripwires when operating in a minefield or mined areas.”

Previous Ministry of Defense-funded research carried out by QinetiQ had shown that the use of polarisation information in imaging systems could dramatically improve target detection, particularly in cluttered environments. Polarisation also helped to overcome several forms of camouflage, concealment and deception. Significant improvements in signal-to-clutter ratios have been demonstrated against anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in the visible and infrared wavebands.

“Reliable non contact tripwire detection is needed to ensure acceptable tempo of land operations,” added Jon Salkeld, MD of QinetiQ’s optronics division. “An effective electro-optic sensor would provide a valuable tool to assist with minefield clearance. QinetiQ’s strong polarimetric imaging team bring many years of experience of developing prototype sensors to deliver innovative imaging solutions. We look forward to working with Mobility IPT on this challenging programme.”

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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