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Army engineers design, build roadway threat detection system

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Explosives along roadways remain an unrelenting hazard for deployed Soldiers.

U.S. Army engineers have developed a system for detecting possible threats by identifying potential threat locations on unimproved roads.

The Shadow Class Infrared Spectral Sensor-Ground, known as SCISSOR-G, could allow Soldiers on a route clearance patrol to achieve greater standoff ranges during missions, said Jim Hilger, chief of the Signal and Image Processing Branch within the U.S. Army Communications -- Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center's Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate, at Fort Belvoir, Va.

CERDEC is one of the seven research and development organizations that comprise the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

The SCISSOR-G is a complementary system to radars. It can perform region of interest cueing of threats at greater standoff distances, which can be further interrogated by the radar as the vehicle gets closer to the threat, Hilger said. The system provides a route clearance patrol with increased standoff range for potential threat detection.

"If you can increase the threat detection in front of the vehicle, you give the operators a chance to do what they need to do to further interrogate it," Hilger said. "You can see [the threat] before you get to it."

The Army recently deployed the SCISSOR-G prototype to theater for 90 days of test and evaluation by Soldiers, Hilger said.

"We are giving the route clearance patrol the ability to look for cues and clues while they're on the move," Hilger said. "They're generating the information live. They're not waiting for an intel brief to give them photographs or a data feed from an [unmanned aerial vehicle]."

The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization requested that CERDEC NVESD take an existing sensor designed for detection from the air and adapt it for use on a ground vehicle, Hilger said. The SCISSOR-G is the Army's first detection system of its type embedded with a route clearance patrol.

The SCISSOR-G consists of a sensor and a multi-sensor graphical user interface, or MS GUI. The sensor is mounted on a vehicle, usually a Husky, using a 10-inch turret with state-of-the-art infrared and high-definition color cameras. The MS GUI has a touch screen monitor to control the turret and cameras.

The MS GUI is flexible enough to enable the sensor control and data visualization to be on the same vehicle as the turret or in a trailing vehicle. The two components of the system enable a single operator to monitor the roadway for threats in real time, Hilger said.

When SCISSOR-G is configured for two vehicles, commands and data are transmitted via a radio link. If the MS GUI operator in the sensor vehicle detects a threat, he would alert the lead-vehicle driver to a specific area for threat confirmation.

Hilger emphasized that the detection of an irregularity or clue does not necessarily mean that a threat is present. Information is provided to the MS GUI operator to determine whether further investigation is required based on the threat signature.

The SCISSOR-G is the result of more than 10 years of research into techniques for explosive threat detection, Hilger said. Twelve CERDEC NVESD personnel from three branches combined their areas of expertise to complete the project in the past year-and-a-half.

The Army Test and Evaluation Command conducted testing on the SCISSOR-G before its deployment to theater.

Article by Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM