Under a DoD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) solicitation launched in late November, the US Army is seeking a system that will divine the intent of a UAV. Responses to the solicitation are due in early February.
The objective is to “develop and demonstrate an innovative, cost-effective, lightweight, tripod-mounted system that can search/surveillance, detect, identify, track and determine the intent and threat level of (UAVs).” In addition, the ideally low-cost, low power consumption system should be “capable of taking over the navigation systems and…impart key functions necessary for the hostile UAV to safely navigate and land in a safe place for further characterisation/exploitation.”
The programme envisions a “multi-band RF/multi-mode software defined radio and EO/IR tripod-mounted suite of sensors….designed to defeat frequency hopping and collisions avoidance UAS and collect the information necessary to make engagement decisions based on the nature of the threat through payload evaluation, flight path analysis and configuration.”
With the proliferation of UAVs in defence and security applications, such a capability is sorely needed. It remains to be seen whether responses will provide the Army with a credible prospect of being able to divine intent with any accuracy at an early enough stage after detection to allow effective engagement decisions to be made. There may, of course, be a follow-up competition – one to determine the right name for the system. We suggest CRYSTAL BALL.