ONERA successfully tests an explosives and firearms detection system for NATO

7 July 2022 – As part of the NATO DEXTER programme, on May 24 and 25 in Rome, ONERA successfully carried out a real time explosives and firearms detection technological demonstration, in a continuous flow of people. This prototype, tested in a real environment, allowed the detection of explosives and firearms hidden under clothing within in an incessant flow of passengers.

This device automatically feeds a tracking system that alerts and sends 2D/3D images to security operators in charge of intercepting people, equipped with virtual reality glasses. The result of the experiment is a real success: by discreetly scanning more than 350 people, the system revealed a success rate of 95%!

In view of the fight against terrorism, NATO has launched a programme aimed at countering the threat that firearms and explosives pose to crowded places. After a four year-long research, funded by the NATO programme for science in the service of peace and security (SPS programme) and the French SGDSN (General Secretariat for Defense and National Security), the MIC (Microwave Imaging Curtain) prototype from the consortium led by ONERA was successfully tested for a month in an underground station in Rome, Italy.

The MIC sensor, part of the DEXTER device, was produced as part of a consortium comprising the SNU Korean university laboratories, Ukrainian IRE NASU and German Fraunhofer FHR, led by ONERA. On this project, ONERA was responsible of the complete management, the systems studies, the image processing, the artificial intelligence algorithm as well as the integration of the sensor into the environment.

Following those excellent results, NATO has shown its willingness to continue the programme towards a marketable system. The great advantage of such a system is to be able to detect threats automatically and discreetly, without having to carry out random passenger checks or establishing checkpoints that generate queues and therefore exposure to risk.

René Mathurin, Defense Programme Director at ONERA declared, “ONERA is proud to have reached and successfully demonstrated the technological maturity of such a complex discreet detection system. ONERA is in its role of innovation at the service of France, Allied countries and NATO, thanks to the support and confidence of the SGDSN, and for the benefit of French, European and NATO partner industrialists.”

Unofficial translation by EDR On-Line

Image courtesy ONERA