The United Nation Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) has observed an increasing frequency of terrorist attacks on so-called "soft targets" such as urban centers. Attacks using weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as chemical (warfare) agents are of particular concern, as high casualty numbers are likely. In order to be able to react quickly and in a targeted manner in the event of an emergency, and thus to minimize the damage among the population, flexible and powerful reconnaissance systems are needed. Available airborne chemical detection systems are not designed for this type of complex and time-critical mission and have limited sensor capacity and data analysis capabilities.
C-SALS (2021-2023) will develop a flexible, semi-autonomous UAV-based reconnaissance system designed to support forces in tactical mission planning and execution by generating a 3D situation picture. An extensively equipped sensor suite consisting of onboard gas sensors, a powerful standoff detector, (lowerable) sampling devices and a high-precision laser scanner on a heavy-duty UAV suitable for military missions will be used for chemical air detection. The main advantages envisioned are that (i) both heavy and light gas scenarios can be addressed, (ii) the 3D environment model provides direct indications of potentially hazardous locations and assists in flight maneuvers, (iii) gas samples can be taken nearly free of downwash and hove effects, and (iv) contamination of expensive specialized equipment is actively counteracted. In C-SALS, basic procedures and methods for UAV-based airborne sensing with the goal of gas detection, identification, and concentration determination will thus be developed to TRL 3 to TRL 5. Vienna Scientific Instruments contributes its knowledge on developing and building robust automatic air sampling systems for UAV deployment to the project consortium.
Project coordination: AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH