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Antmicro and OpenWorks complete testing of next generation Artificial Intelligence drone target tracking


February 12, 2019, Newcastle, UK - Successful testing of the next generation AI drone tracking system from Antmicro has been completed at the OpenWorks test site in the UK, January 2019. This first application of this ground-breaking technology is in the SkyWall300 system, which is in the final stage of testing and will be deployed operationally later this year.

Antmicro are bringing their experience in the development and implantation of edge artificial intelligence and neural-networks to support the anti-drone security mission. Working closely in partnership, OpenWorks and Antmicro are developing the most capable drone tracking and capture system on the market, a flexible and modular solution to address the growing and evolving threat, as exemplified by the recent series of airport shutdowns in the UK and worldwide caused by drone sightings.

The SkyWall300 allows an operator to physically capture a target drone and bring it to the ground without the use of any electronic counter-measure, such as signal jamming. This makes the system a unique option for security authorities working on sites such as airports and critical national infrastructure and allows the captured drone to be exploited for evidence.

Skywall’s latest tracking technology update by Antmicro has brought new features to improve the already highly capable performance in terms of tracking against complex backgrounds and following fixed-winged targets - all this thanks to new, deep learning based methods making use of the latest generation of NVIDIA GPU-enabled computing platforms that offer exceptional performance for AI inference.

SkyWall300 has already proven its ability to physically capture drones in front of US military and government agencies during recent high-profile tests held in Indiana and New Mexico. SkyWall300 captured more drones than any other system tested at the Black Dart and JIDO Hard Kill events, successfully engaging multi-rotor and fixed-wing targets at both test events during a range of test scenarios.

SkyWall technology is already deployed at major sites across Europe, North America and Asia with the handheld capture system, called SkyWall100. It provides protection at International airports, nuclear power stations, critical national infrastructure sites, such as the Pentagon.

OpenWorks and Antmicro believe that combining the SkyWall and Antmicro’s edge AI and computer vision expertise will provide the most capable solutions in a range of scenarios. While this is currently being proven through the automatic tracking and capture of nefarious drones, the opportunities to exploit the capabilities for other security missions is clear.

 

About Antmicro:

Antmicro (www.antmicro.com) is a software-driven tech company developing advanced edge AI systems. Antmicro provides open software, hardware, tooling, new development methodologies and applied R&D to customers worldwide, offering assistance in prototyping, new product development and adoption of modern embedded platforms, both CPU/ASIC, GPU and FPGA-based. All of Antmicro’s projects are based on a broad range of open source technologies such as RISC‑V, Renode, ROS, Tensorflow, Zephyr, Linux and Android.

The Commandant of the US Marine Corps observes SkyWall100 UAS net capture at NATO NNTEX-18C


SkyWall100 demonstrated physical capture capability, with low collateral damage, in several “drone threat” scenarios at the Marine Corps Base Quantico for the Non-Lethal Technology Exercise NNTEX-18C.

SkyWall100 successfully engaged several moving and static drone targets, demonstrating SkyWall’s ability to physically capture and neutralise a drone threat. The system defeated multiple drones including the large DJI S1000 octocopter, that was captured in a simulated live mission when it was armed with an inert payload.

 

The demonstrations were set to show existing deployed systems such as SkyWall, alongside emerging non-lethal capabilities in countering Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aerial System (LSS sUAS) threats.

Technologies demonstrated included Detection, Identification, Jamming and Physical defeat. The threat briefs and scenarios demonstrated the growing need for a physical interdiction.

When jamming systems were able to disrupt the drone, it would hover allowing SkyWall100 to easily capture the device, ensuring the perpetrator is denied the ability to re-engage the defensive force. This showed SkyWall100s ability to be used alongside other technologies to offer a layered defence.

A large number of military officers, analysts and observers from NATO nations around the world attended, gaining an appreciation of the complexities associated with drone threats and the challenges faced by the military when operating in a range of environments.

 

SkyWall300 Neutralises Fixed Wing Drones at Black Dart 2018


In the first ever physical capture of a fixed wing drone, the SkyWall300 low-collateral net-capture system was shown to be highly effective against a range of targets

 

The SkyWall300 counter-UAS system was independently evaluated by the US Government at the prestigious Black Dart 2018 event in Indiana over a two-week period in September 2018.  This unique net-capture system showed that it was able to reliably neutralise the threat from a range of rotary and fixed wing drone types flying different sorties.

The Black Dart event is run annually by the US Government to evaluate a wide range of counter-UAS technologies.  It allows technology providers to show how their systems can handle real world scenarios and is attended by delegates from a broad cross-section of government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defence.

SkyWall300 neutralises drones at range by launching a projectile which is timed to deploy in-front of the target and entangle it in a net.  The SkyWall300 launcher can be used with a range of projectiles including the SP40 net and parachute option which lowers the captured drone to the ground under a parachute, and the SP10 net-only option which has a larger net for increased effectiveness. SkyWall300 uses deep-learning neural networks to identify and track the target drone – the operator need only decide when to initiate the capture.

Not only was this the first time that SkyWall300 was shown at Black Dart, it also represented the first joint marketing of SkyWall technology by Liteye Systems Inc (the US distributor for SkyWall technology) and OpenWorks Engineering (the UK based OEM).  Liteye and OpenWorks have joined forces in the US to support military, law enforcement and security authorities with their counter-UAS missions.

“It is important for operatives on the front line of security and defense to have access to an integrated counter-UAS solution,” stated Chris Down, the Managing Director of OpenWorks.  “From the outset we designed SkyWall300 to be easily integrated with UAS detection technology and to complement other neutralisation methods so that users can have access to a flexible toolbox of solutions.”

Future upgrades for SkyWall300 include an auto-reload system as well as further testing to push the capability boundaries.