Enhancing capabilities for operational armed forces
The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) is considering upgrades to its SAPIENT (Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology) solution as it seeks to enhance capabilities for armed forces operating in the Contested Urban Environment (CUE).
Addressing delegates at the Future Soldier Technology conference in London on 12th March, DSTL Principal Advisor for Tactical C4I, Cyber and Information Systems, Chris Nicholls, explained how the organisation was aiming to upgrade SAPIENT into a mobile solution with autonomous sensor modules (ASM).
SAPIENT, initially designed for base and fixed infrastructure protection, comprises a modular solution featuring multiple ASMs sending intelligence data packets via low bandwidths to a central fusion centre for the execution of “decision fusion and sensor management”, Nicholls explained.
The aim of SAPIENT, he added, was to supply information to the end users rather than raw data products which still required processing and exploitation, it was added.
Such a wide area activity has been designed to better understand the operating environment, Nicholls added, through a mix of physical and human sensing to provide situation awareness to the lowest tactical level as well as battle space management and command and control.
Additional developments include the integration of human-operated sensors from the British Army’s Dismounted Situation Awareness (DSA) programme; multi-modal sensors; and the ability to counter ‘urban stressors including urban canyons and clutter’. This includes the deployment of ‘assured and resilient communications across difficult topography’ associated with urban warfare, Nicholls added.
Furthermore, DSTL is expecting to consider the future optimisation of human-machine interfaces for urban intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) with other areas of interest including the future exploration autonomy in order to reduce information overload at the tactical level; prioritisation of sensors and information control; and system of systems training to ensure that key interdependencies are understood.
Finally, Nicholls paid referent to SAPIENT’s participation in the CUE Adelaide 17 exercise conducted between 20th November and 1st December 2017.
“The integrated systems increased information available to tactical commanders as well as at times providing a means of directly informing key decision points in the mission,” DSTL literature explained.
“The BLUFOR commander employed the integrated technologies to support early warning instead of soldiers; and the greater level of information about section locations allowed the commander to reduce the need for verbal updates,” it was concluded.