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Projects of the joint German-Austrian call 2013


|   Call 2015

Detection of varying improvised explosive devices by using smart analytic sensors

In the project DURCHBLICK we plan to investigate the combination of different sensor technologies for robot-assisted analysis and for forensic investigations of suspicious objects (e.g. left luggage, manipulated trash cans, ...) in public spaces. The previous attacks in Paris, the terrorist warnings of Hannover and Munich in the last year are just a few examples of how present the threat of bombings currently is. In particular, the increasing prevalence of instructions for manufacturing improvised or unconventional explosive devices (IEDs) found on the internet results in a serious threat to public safety. Therefore, law enforcement agencies must be able to quickly and efficiently investigate suspicious objects such as abandoned pieces of luggage, manipulated trash cans, gas cylinders, improvised pyrotechnics and similar suspicious items with the lowest possible risk. Threats like this occur in such various demanding environments: at train stations or other public places, inside buses, trains or airplanes, in lockers or in narrow buildings. Currently, the security forces utilize remotely piloted robot platform equipped with various sensors such as transmission X-ray and optical cameras for the investigation of suspicious objects to assess the risk of the situation. But all too often these technologies encounter their limits. One of the reasons is that suspicious objects, which are located by a wall, are only accessible from one side.

A reasonable investigation may then only be conducted by a contact based examination, which poses a great risk. The necessary determination of the detonator and the type of explosive material is important but often impossible. Such situations pose an enormous risk for both the emergency services on site as well as the population in the proximity. All the information that can be obtained beyond the state of the art will help to protect the lives of the task forces on site and to increase public safety.

Based on this demand the DURCHBLICK project was initiated. The aim of the project is to provide the emergency services with a powerful sensor system, which significantly exceeds the current state of the art. It will be possible to remotely pilot a robotic sensor platform to the potential source of danger, so detailed information on the contents of a suspicious object can be gathered quickly. This is currently not possible with available systems. The data from different sensors will be merged by fusion algorithms and presented to the operator in an appropriate manner in a user-friendly, efficient user interface. The information will be made available to the emergency services with short delay, firstly to assist them in the assessment of the threat and secondly to support them in the decision making process on how to proceed in a critical situation.

Based on a detailed definition of the security organizations requirements, potential sensor technologies will be evaluated and compared on the basis of available literature, as well as by practical tests in the defined application scenarios. A main focus of the investigation is the Proton Transfer Reaction - Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) technology, which is very promising for this application because of its capability to detect and quantify Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

By combining PTR-MS with other sensors such as infrared camera, optical sensors (laser scanner, visual camera) and sensor technology for the detection and identification of radioactivity, gases and volatile explosives, extensive data can be collected for hazard assessment and conservation of evidence. By means of data fusion of various sensors and an efficient user interface, specifically designed for use by emergency services under stress situations, the information will be immediately available for emergency responders. Thereby a reliable assessment of the situation from a safe distance is possible. Tests and demonstrations under realistic conditions with involvement of end users will be performed already during the project lifetime. It will be ensured that a powerful and usable system is developed, which provides a clear advantage over currently available technology. The involvement of ethical, sociological and legal experts in the selection, optimization and application of the technologies will ensure that social and legal aspects are taken into account in the process of system development. 

[1] Definition USBV: http:// 

Dipl.-Ing. Michael Hofstätter
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung und Sport (BMLVS)
Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Institute of Networks and Securityr
Vienna Centre for Societal Security - VICESSE
CBRN Protection GmbH
Ionicon Analytik Gesellschaft m.b.H.
IQSOFT Gesellschaft für Informationstechnologie m.b.H.
DI Dr. Heinz Stanek - Stancon

Dipl.-Ing. Michael Hofstätter
Senior Research Engineer

Smart Sensor Solutions
Center for Digital Safety & Security

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Donau-City-Straße 1 | 1220 Vienna | Austria

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