Feeds

French offer gunshot-locator flying robots

Next: Droids which can pry open cold dead hands

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Paris Airshow There are lots of small, hand-launched roboplanes around these days, usually intended to let foot soldiers get an idea what lies over the hill or around the corner. There are also lots of acoustic gunshot spotter rigs nowadays, some of them very fancy indeed.

The FNS900 Seeker, as used with the A-HFI shotspotter system

Shooting at the robots. Bad idea.

Neither of these on their own would be news, but French company Secapem claims to be the first to combine the two, offering a small, portable unmanned plane which flies about and detects the tracks of bullets fired at it. At the moment the system works mainly as a way for the plane's operator to evade hostile fire, but the developers believe that in future the kit will be able to mark the locations of enemy gunmen on a digital map.

Secapem MD Emmanuel Pasqualini described the system to the Reg yesterday at the Paris Airshow, underway at Le Bourget. His company's special sauce is its unobtrusive, 30g skin sensors, of which at least three must be fitted to an aircraft. The sensors pick up the distinctive conical shockwave - the sonic boom - which trails behind bullets or projectiles flying faster than sound. (Subsonic rounds are normally fired only from pistols and submachineguns, and aren't much of a threat on modern battlefields.)

A central processor can then work out the bullets' track. At the moment, it does so relative to the aircraft only - it can be used as a threat warning for the operator, or for the pilot in the case of larger manned aircraft. But Pasqualini says that if it were integrated with location systems - GPS satnav, perhaps augmented by inertial reckoning - it could accurately locate the firing weapon on a map.

"We need to work more with the autopilot systems," he says.

According to Pasqualini, the Acoustic Hostile Fire Indicator (A-HFI) isn't bothered by a noisy environment - it doesn't need to be mounted on a quiet electric UAV - and it isn't dependent on detecting the muzzle blast of the firing weapon. This is the great Achilles heel of many shot-spotter systems, as the distinctive sonic crack is easily distinguished but the actual gunshot is easily confused with echoes or other guns.

Secapem's system is in its infancy, plainly, but it's developed from established kit: the firm formerly applied this tech in towed targets used to train pilots in air-to-air gunnery. It's hard to say whether this acoustic route is more or less valuable than the new infrared rivals nearing the market. However, Thales' Elix-IR reportedly weighs 30kg; A-HFI, at 30g a sensor and 73g for the processing board, may have the small UAV sector to itself. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Asteroid's SHOCK DINO MURDER SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.