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Strategic Elements developing Sensor Fusion stack to integrate into autonomous robotic security vehicles

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Strategic Elements Ltd (ASX:SOR) has started developing a ‘Sensor Fusion’ stack for integration into a new generation of autonomous robotic security vehicles that will make them more intuitive and more responsive to their environment.

The sensor fusion will make the autonomous systems more human-like in the way they can perceive their surroundings.

This technology is designed to equip the autonomous security vehicles (ASV) with more advanced sensory capabilities than human security guards, significantly enhancing the patrol and surveillance functionality of the company’s ASV.

The Sensor Fusion stack is also a key enabler in the technology roadmap towards the ASV achieving advanced Artificial Intelligence capabilities.

“Generating significant momentum”

Strategic Elements managing director Charles Murphy said: “We have undertaken a significant amount of work to plan and design the next generation of the ASV.

“In our view, the Sensor Fusion stack is just the start of showing how we can add advanced intelligence into our mobile robotics platform.

“We are generating significant momentum across our technology projects, including the Electronic Battery and Memory Inks and look forward to communicating these developments as they occur.

“We can see how we can develop, test and validate the technologies to potentially attract significant interest from industry participants.

“Our technologies are by design highly innovative and seek large global markets and as a company, we are highly leveraged to technology development success.”

Shares higher

SOR has a market cap of approximately $187.3 million and shares have been almost 11 per cent higher in early trade to 51.5 cents.

ASV sensor fusion stack

The ASV fusion stack will include additional sensors such as LiDAR, radar, GPS, sonar, thermal imaging and different types of cameras, with each sensor adding different strengths to the fusion data generated.

Sensor fusion is an important upgrade to the design of autonomous systems and requires a complex assortment of sensors and the real-time software to enable local processing of raw sensor data.

It combines data from multiple sensors in real-time to create an accurate picture of the local environment.

Environmental information to drive behaviour

The ASV can use this to enable higher-level tasks to understand, plan and interact autonomously with its environment – for example not just to detect humans, but to interpret why they may be there and what they are doing.

It can enable environmental information to drive robot behaviour.

Fusion is the ultimate form of sensor integration, combining multiple sensor technologies in a single application.

Each sensor has individual strengths that when combined can eliminate the weaknesses of the others.

For example, when it is dark, LiDAR, Radar and thermal imaging can ‘see’ whilst cameras and humans cannot.

In addition, the ASV will be able ‘see’ around corners, view from an elevated position, focus with much longer range and apply greater attention to detail than human security guards.

Global perimeter security market

SOR is designing the ASV to automate perimeter security.

The global perimeter security market is forecast to grow quickly at CAGR of 12% over the forecast period 2020-2026, reaching US$282.26 billion by 2025.

Integration with collaborative work

The Sensor Fusion stack will also include integration with ongoing collaborative work with Planck AeroSystems enabling autonomous drones to launch and land autonomous surveillance flights from a moving ASV platform.

Planck is a global leader working with the US Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), the US Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security on various aspects of its technology.

In addition, the CSIRO Wildcat SLAM technology will also be integrated with the Sensor Fusion stack.

The company has licensed world-leading CSIRO technology that enables robots to work together in teams.

The Wildcat SLAM technology leverages more than ten years of research and development at CSIRO’s Data61.

Wildcat is a key enabling technology in ‘robot perception’, a system that endows the robot with the ability to perceive, comprehend and reason about the surrounding environment.

Autonomous Perimeter Security Testing

The company is also exclusively collaborating with giant US company Honeywell International Inc (NYSE:HON)  to build autonomous security vehicles for the correctional justice sector.

The parties are working with the WA Department of Justice to build a fully autonomous robotic security vehicle for the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison in Kalgoorlie to inspect, test and confirm the integrity of the secure perimeter.

SOR has developed custom robotics built on top of its autonomous mobile platform to provide automated perimeter security testing 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

This enables automated testing of multiple technologies including microphonics, microwave, buried electromagnetic cable and photoelectric beams.

The ASV is being deployed to increase the security of the perimeter and reduce the amount of human involvement in testing and patrols, freeing those staff up for more skilled tasks.

As development progresses certain ASV Fusion Stack features will be assessed for applicability in the correctional justice sector.

However, under the agreement with Honeywell, the company can independently market the ASV into other sectors such as transport, energy, defence, government and utilities.

These sectors will be the initial focus for the new generation of the ASV with Fusion Stack.

Next steps

An ASV is under live testing at the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison and this is on track to be completed in the current quarter.

Further facilities and deployments of the perimeter testing focused vehicle will be assessed upon successful completion of the testing program.

The company has started talks with potential Early Adopter Program participants for the ASV in non-correctional sectors such as mining and transport.

It is seeking to work closely with early adopters to deeply understand their use case, solve their problems and continuously upgrade and improve the ASV.

Discussions are ongoing and no agreement has been entered into to date.

Sensor placement and development, integration with the Stealth Autonomous Operating System and real-time software to enable local processing of raw sensor data will be developed over the next two-three months.

Live trials of the new generation ASV with Sensor Fusion is expected to commence in the first half of 2021.

Further upgrades to the ASV technology stack are being assessed and if a decision is made to commit to the integration of the technology, the company will communicate this as appropriate.

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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