The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) is a bit like the Ministry of Defence’s very own Dragon Den. It bills itself as “the first point of contact for anyone with a disruptive technology, new process or innovation that has a potential defence application”. In other words if any boffin / entrepeneur / small company out there thinks that have an idea or design for a new weapons system for example they get steered towards the CDE and if its good enough, they get funding.
Over the past couple of years the CDE has begun to host events to try to nudge inventors, academics and small companies to undertake research into particular technologies or areas with specific aims in mind. Earlier this month the CDE held a day long seminar at Cardiff University entitled ‘The Military Challenge for Science and Technology’. The programme for the day stated the event “was split with a morning session looking, in general, at the opportunities for new science and technology to impact on military capability and an afternoon session presenting two current calls for research proposals in the areas of ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) and Sensors.”
The afternoon session was much more focused and of particular interest was the call for equipment and sensors that can undertake “automatic (assisted) target recognition of vehicles and people” (slide 22) and the “assisted detection and recognition of people and gestures in urban scenarios” (slide 25). In a scenario envisaged earlier in the presentation, the companies are told to assume “High Value Target list agreed and maintained” and that the “TOI [Target of Interest] trigger is of sufficient priority to enable priority asset tracking” (slide 6). Click the above images to download the full presentation.
The individual recognition sensors that the MoD are interested in developing should be able to be mounted on mobile platforms (presumably such as drones) need to be able to combine “face, gait and shape features” and “identify individuals or reacquire targets from their known signature.” Bizarrely the presentation also seem to suggest that “X-box ‘kinect’ sensors” may be useful for this work. Video games warfare indeed! The MoD’s deadline for responses from industry is very short – closing date for proposals/bids to fill this need is September 27 with a demonstration event set for February 2012.