Project Overview

MIDAS proposes an innovative approach to the detection and tracking of potential threats in counter-terrorism contexts based on the deployment of multiple mini-UAVs working in “team mode” and capable of providing guidance in emergency situations consequent to terrorist attacks and surveillance of critical infrastructures/areas of interest.

In particular the primary goal of MIDAS is to develop and demonstrate an innovative concept of coordination of multiple mini-UAVs capable of carrying out detection and tracking tasks in complex urban – but not limited – scenarios. The UAVs, equipped with different typologies of sensor payloads (camera, infrared, acoustic, ..), will be capable of acquiring information from the surrounding monitored scenario, and sharing them with the Ground Control Station (GCS) through dedicated network infrastructures.

In the GCS these heterogeneous information are collected and, through the adoption of dedicated real-time fusion algorithms, the data are opportunely combined for the generation of complex events which are displayed on the HMI console thus enhancing the situational awareness. In fact, the HMI is the interface where the Mission Control Operator (MCO) can interact with the UAVs and where the tactical decision making processes resides: operators and decision makers will use the HMI console to (1) dynamically adjust mission’s targets, goals and tasks according to the information received from the UAVs and (2) support security operators deployed on the field with additional tactical and operational information.

The MIDAS system can be employed in typical scenarios where the risks for human operators are too high and the MCO wants to exploit the ability of the system in gathering additional field information on one or more suspicious targets (humans, vehicles, abandoned objects) in urban environment: an example could be the for instance a suspicious vehicle approaching a critical infrastructure or an area of interest where an abandoned object has been detected and signalled. Following the triggered threat, MIDAS can deploy a team of sensorised mini- UAVs equipped with dedicated sensors (e.g. infrared sensors to recognize the thermal signature of the target or electro-optical sensors to provide real time videos or images) and interconnected through a dedicated LTE tactical private network infrastructure. Through the deployed system the MCO shall be capable of gathering and collecting specific information and share them with other UAV members. The innovative data fusion algorithms resident on the GCS will be used to integrate the heterogeneous information and generate complex events which will be displayed on the HMI console and will support the GCS operators at 3 levels:

  • Level 1: through the augmented situational awareness validate the existing assumption on the potential terroristic threats
  • Level 2: broadcast the alerts to the Security Field Operators and review/adjust the mission objectives accordingly
  • Level 3: provide operational support and indications to Security Field Operators on the possible countermeasures to be adopted in order to neutralize the threat.

All in all, MIDAS provides the Decision Makers with a flexible framework capable of optimizing the usage of precious human resources, optimizing the balance between autonomy and human control as required by the mission goals and constrained by the environmental conditions.

Project’s specific objectives are the following:

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Development of a reference architecture for enabling the information exchange between the UAV team and the operator in terms of data formats and data link specifications; Study and application of sensor data fusion and video analysis algorithms for improving the confidence and accuracy levels of information about the scenarios, as well as detection and tracking of potential threats; Development of a SW-in-the-loop e HW-in-the-loop demonstrator as proof of concept. Assessment and evaluation of MIDAS concept and the related operational capability improvement.

MIDAS will follow a Concept, Development and Demonstration (CD&D) approach, according to an iterative process where each iteration (or small step) requires feedback from the practitioners or end-users as input for making small adjustments on the requirements. Finally, test environments and reference scenarios will be defined and will be virtually simulated: closed-loop testing system for SW-in-the-loop and HW-in-the-loop demonstration of mini-UAVs will be arranged. The developed closed-loop HIL simulation system allows an elaborate validation of mini-UAVs platform functionalities and performance in an integrated configuration including both navigation, guidance/control, and sensor payloads.

Advantages deriving from the SIL and HIL approach are evident in this specific UAVs domain in which we want to have the possibility to change or adjust the test environment freely, rapidly and safely and/or we want to have the opportunity to repeat tests in the same conditions and with a very cost effective approach which will allow focus on demonstrations specifically designed to reduce the operational impact but still providing reliable results depending on the nature of the investigated content.

Results originating from the experimental activity shall be evaluated and assessed, taking into account aspects such as training and operational procedures. For this purpose, the practitioners – State Police Academy “Stefan Cel Mare” and end-users “EOS – European Organization for Security” representatives will provide specific information on scenarios and operational requirements, as well as will support and assess the demonstrations.

The MIDAS project team has devised a work plan structured over 24 months with 6 work packages:

  • WP1 aims at providing a structured system for the full administrative and technical management of the project, addressing all methods of risk management, quality assurance and confidentiality including IPR handling.
  • WP2 aims at: a) analysing the operational scenarios and the sensor payloads to be used to meet the operational requirements, b) Identifying the required capabilities to reach identified goals in provided operational areas with regards to multiple UAVs;
  • WP3 aims at addressing the system analysis and design of MIDAS, which will be based on the operational requirements previously identified in WP2.
  • WP4 aims at integrating the different modules of the overall MIDAS system and to demonstrate the validity of the concept through appropriate experimentations. This allows to assess overall system performance and specific functional features in a scenario-driven environment.
  • WP5 aims at evaluating and assessing the MIDAS concept and architecture in the reference scenarios, as well as at promulgating a set of recommendations as initial contribute to the concept evolution roadmap.
  • WP6 is aimed at managing and facilitating the dissemination and exploitation of project results from the scientific and public understanding point of view.