One of the technologies showcased by the Defence, Peace, Safety and Security (DPSS) division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at its Pretoria campus on Thursday was an Optical Missile Approach Warning and Gunshot Detection System. This combined system not only detects these threats, but also provides important extra information, such as the origin of the threat and the identification ("classification") of the exact nature of the threat.
Separate gunshot detection and missile warning systems already exist. The former employ acoustic technologies and the latter are usually line-of-sight ultraviolet (UV) systems. Their efficiency, false alarm rate and costs vary. The CSIR sees its system as a cost-effective alternative.
"The CSIR solution is differentiated by operating as one, dual-use threat detection system and localisation tool -- versus systems that require separate acoustic and UV systems to cover the different threats," highlighted DPSS. "The system has delivered improved temporal and spatial resolution when compared to infrared systems."
The system employs a near-infrared (NIR) camera using proprietary optical filters and image processing techniques, which deliver improved detection capabilities by means of cost-effective Charged-Coupled Device imaging sensor chips. The missile approach warning element of the system is currently at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 and the gunshot detection element is at TRL 4. TRL 3 means that there has been experimental proof of the concept while TRL 4 indicates that the concept has been demonstrated in a laboratory.
Both aspects of the system -- missile approach warning and gunshot detection -- would be of value to pilots, not only military but also civilians flying in risky areas. The gunshot detection element on its own would be of value to police forces, and cash-in-transit security and reaction teams.
"With the support of an appropriate partner agency, the technology will be further enhanced by refining sensors, expanding field measurements, as well as further simulation and hardware development," stated DPSS. "The distances at which detection occurs during early tests are impressive and would bode well for market opportunities for the commercialised product as a missile approach warning and/or gunshot detection system."