Launch Stories provides warfighters, sponsors, partners, and taxpayers with an inside look at the technologies and research developed by small businesses working with the Air Force.
Sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), this new forum highlights the advanced tools and innovations that drive US competitiveness and make service members safer, better informed, and more efficient than ever. These are their stories.
(If you are interested in partnering with the Air Force to develop a new technology or explore new markets, you can find more information here.)
Congress established the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program in 1982 to strengthen the role of smaller businesses in federally-funded research and development. This program stimulates technological innovation, uses small businesses to meet Federal R&D needs, and increases private sector competition, productivity, and economic growth.
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, a sister program to SBIR, was established by Congress in 1992 to encourage small business partnerships with Universities, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and qualified non-profit research institutions.
The process for submitting a story is divided into a few easy steps. Estimated time to set aside to write, input, collect support materials and emailing your project information is about four hours.
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Imagine you must provide security for an equipment storage yard of expensive vehicles and equipment. The surrounding terrain has thick vegetation, and the site is accessible from a dirt road. Only a chain linked fence and locked gate provide physical security. At night, any activity near this yard means trouble. You want early warning of anyone approaching. Camera systems can’t deliver. To “see” far enough beyond the fence to give security guards enough time to respond, you need a SADAR system.
A combat unit is setting up a forward operating base (FOB) in a small village located in rugged terrain. Security surveillance consists of day/night video cameras to monitor the surrounding area. There are several blind approaches where a person on foot or in a vehicle wouldn't be seen on camera until very near the outer walls. To compensate, they deploy four SADAR arrays around the FOB buried a short distance outside the walls. These arrays send messages to one laptop but only when a potential threat is detected. That night intruders approach the camp, but SADAR detects them, classifies them as people on foot, and displays a line from each array pointing in their direction, which indicates they are on the other side of a nearby hill. Alerted, the unit has enough time to proactively respond before the potential threat can even see the FOB. Without SADAR’s early warning the unit would have very little time to react when the intruders finally appear in the video camera’s field of view.
A SADAR sensor ready to install
Remote access and tracking
Verifying system installation
Soldiers and security personnel needed a robust security system providing an expanded situational awareness zone and enhanced detection and classification performance. Current security monitoring solutions depend heavily on line-of-sight systems (e.g., cameras, radar, lidar) that cannot work through intervening terrain, structures, and heavy foliage, and existing seismic-acoustic systems lack the detection distances to compensate. Intruders using such “blind approaches” can delay detection and threaten friendly personnel or assets before security personnel can respond. Because line-of-sight surveillance systems cannot see through obstacles, common seismic-acoustic sensors (such as geophones, fiber optics, magnetometers, lossy RF cables, and trip wires) have been used to augment them. However, their limited detection ranges mean they must be deployed beyond the perimeter to provide early warning, adding more time and complications to overall security system setup.
Quantum Technology Sciences (Quantum) worked with AFRL, Navy Strategic Systems Programs, and DTRA to leverage earlier UGS development work for multiple DoD departments and agencies. The application of seismic array processing techniques using Quantum’s novel sensing technology and special algorithm development methods resulted in a system that can detect, classify, report, and locate hidden people on foot out to 250 meters, and vehicles as far as 600 meters, regardless of obstacles.
"SADAR in action is very impressive. Its range and accuracy are outstanding, the sensor is non-mechanical and solid state, and the system withstands harsh environments very well." — Mr. William Schultz
Similar to passive RADAR and SONAR, SADAR is a wide area detection system that provides near-real time information to a customizable georeferenced image/map. A SADAR node is an array of typically 6-8 seismic-acoustic sensors buried in shallow holes in a room-sized pattern at long standoff distances from the potential threats to be detected, classified, and located. Each SADAR node collects data from all of its sensors, coherently combines the data, and automatically processes it to yield detections, classifications, and bearing directions to specified targets of interest in all domains (land, air and water). The target set is user selectable and can include footsteps, digging, vehicles, power boats, aircraft, and other sources. SADAR arrays are especially good at “seeing” beyond line-of-sight through trees, hills, obstructions, and even buildings. The node can be completely buried and hidden from view, making it virtually impossible to discover. Alert messages from multiple SADAR nodes with overlapping coverage can plot the location of detected and classified targets. SADAR systems can best be used to augment line-of-sight systems by cuing them where to look for intruders about to emerge from a blind approach. The user interface can be any computing device with SADAR software is loaded, with satellite map displays, color coded symbols for target class and direction, icons for target location, and full output message data accessible.
The SADAR system provides users early warning of intruders approaching from directions that cameras, radar, and other line-of-sight systems cannot penetrate. This cuts security response time and could mean the difference between success and failure when defending life and property. SADAR provides an extended, uniform awareness zone outside the perimeter, delivering “proactive awareness,” with additional time and space to respond to potential threats.
The SADAR SBIR program is the culmination of Quantum’s efforts to turn vibrations in the ground into specific actionable information tailored to a user’s need. Because SADAR uses arrays of sensors and specialized automatic signal processing, users know not only what and where, but also can follow the movements of multiple different targets in real-time. Quantum foresees SADAR technology maturing to support applications in all areas of science and industry involving vibrations in the earth.
SADAR technology applies the full weight of modern geophysics toward advancing the extraction of information from the ground under our feet. Automatic coherent array processing combined with specified algorithms to find signals of interest offers new capabilities for science, industry, and governments. In the international security monitoring and surveillance markets, SADAR has the potential to open new avenues for products and services worldwide.
The development of SADAR required the confluence of four events – the invention of inexpensive, highly coherent seismic sensors, the ability of a small company to master all aspects of the signal processing chain, the development of highly sophisticated algorithms for data analysis, and the insight of funding organizations that saw the value of our mission. The SADAR project is facilitating significant advances in many aspects of security and surveillance science, engineering, and technology.
SADAR was designed to support a variety of customer systems and communications requirements and protocols. It integrates easily into most customer systems and can contribute to complex common operating picture applications as needed. Nearly all system components are of COTS origin, yielding an affordable, reliable product.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Quantum Technology Sciences specializes in systems which sense, acquire, analyze, interface, and manage complex technical data. It produces high performance sensor systems for a variety of applications, particularly to help safeguard highly valued assets, borders, and critical infrastructure.
Unattended Seismic Sensor Array (USSA) Systems for Security and Surveillance (S&S)
A09-099 for the original phase I program
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