A portable warning system to helps prevent friendly-fire incidents

An idea for a portable warning system to helps prevent friendly-fire incidents was recently crowned the best technology project at the 2011 Innovation Game. The project, commissioned by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence, is a joint partnership between the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), Thales Nederland, TNO and ADSE Consulting & Engineering. This winning consortium received a monetary award for further developing the project.

The concept involves a shooter sending out a laser beam that detects military uniforms, with the signal returning in a fraction of second with feedback, thus alerting the shooter that he is targeting a friendly solider.

Friendly fire
The portable system offers soldiers decision-making support when operating under fire in areas of low visibility, such as forests, urban areas, buildings and under the cover of darkness. Owing to poor sightlines and the inability to determine the exact locations of fellow soldiers, incidents of friendly fire occur too frequently. In addition to developing this project with partners, NLR is studying whether this man-portable system can be expanded to include other functionalities, such as, for example, recognition made between individuals and vehicles, as well as the system’s potential use among non-military personnel, such as journalists.

Defence Materials Organisation’s research and development department organised the Innovation Game, which was intended to encourage the military, knowledge institutes and defence industry to come up with ideas for challenges faced by the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence invests substantially in the creation of knowledge within institutes and, in close collaboration with the defence industry, works towards developing new technologies. The Innovation Game helps to render the results of these efforts more visible.

The winning idea was submitted by Thales Nederland, TNO, ADSE Consulting & Engineering and the NLR. This consortium subsequently presented their idea at the 23rd NIDV Symposium & Exposition in Rotterdam.