IDEX 2023: a multi-sensor detector from GCS

Paolo Valpolini

Global Clearance Solutions, GCS in short, is a Swiss-based company specialised in the disposal of landmines, Improvised Explosive Devices and other explosive hazards. At IDEX 2023 the company unveiled a new product, the GCS-MDS, the last three letters standing for Multi-sensor Detection System.

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Each type of detection technology has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the type of object and soil, hence GCS decided to pack three different technologies in a single modular deployable system that can easily be attached to various types of platform tasked for route clearing operations, facilitating the safe and efficient detection and avoidance of explosive threats thus enabling the freedom of movement, a key factor in military operations.

The basic module is the MDS-120, which is 1.2 meters wide, weighs approximately 50 kg, and can detect IEDs and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on the same width. Modules can be combined increasing the sensor width to 2.4 meters (MDS-240) or 3.6 meters (MDS-360), the whole set-up in the latter version weighing around 170 kg. While 3.6 meters is usually the maximum width used for vehicle-mounted solutions tasked for route clearance, for digital UXO survey five modules can be put together to reach a 6 meters width. According to GCS two persons can easily install a single module in 15 minutes without using any tool.

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Each module includes a passive sensor, the magnetic metal detector (MAG), and two active ones, the ground penetrating radar (GPR) and the electro magnetic (EM) metal detector. Thanks to its lightweight structure it can be fitted to a manipulating arm allowing rotating it in azimuth and setting the height from the ground, the MDS being thus used not only to clear the route in front of the carrying platform but also to check the roadside.

Combining the three technologies allows detecting metal and metal-free IED components, anomalies generated by planting an IED under the earth, detecting, locating and evaluating the main components of an improvised explosive device. The operator sees the imaging obtained by the combination of the three types of sensors thanks to an intuitive data visualisation system in tunnel format, the artificial intelligence based software helping the operator in his work, and updating the data-base exploiting machine-learning techniques.

When a potential threat is found, its position is clearly marked thanks to a set of nozzles that spray coloured paint on the exact location, paints of different colours being available in order to discriminate different types of objects found.

Among possible platforms that might be equipped with its MDS the Swiss company indicates unmanned ground vehicles, its CGS-100 mince-clearance and IED-disposal sensor for urban environments and the bigger GCS-200 heavy duty system being already installed on UGVs, as well as light and medium wheeled vehicles, from 4×4 up to 8×8 configuration, the new sensor ensuring higher flexibility and effectiveness for route clearance packages.

Photo by P. Valpolini – Graphics courtesy GCS