Turning technology into ploughshares

Posted By : Daisy Stapley-Bunten

Through its technology transfer business, Ploughshare Innovations, the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is making a significant contribution to the development of cutting edge aerospace technologies. Invariably these have multiple military and civil applications. Of particular significance are:

Rapid Aeroelastic and Structural Analysis Modelling (RASAM) software. This transforms the creation of geometric, finite-element, aeroelastic and optimisation models for aircraft and weapons. Models that would otherwise take weeks or months to generate can be created in hours, and updated in seconds. The software has potential to drive or to enhance multi-disciplinary design environments, and is particularly well suited to conceptual and preliminary design studies.

The Enhanced Decision Analysis for Counter-Terrorism (EDACT) decision fusion tool was designed to assist with surveillance within crowded public areas e.g. shopping centres and sporting events. The tool combines the decisions of multiple security sensors to improve detection rates and reduce false alarms. EDACT enables operators to select the optimal sensor mix and sensitivity in order to maximise the performance of the system.

Bistatic Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), this builds on the existing SAR concept by introducing a ground component which reduces the required complexity of the satellite/airborne platform. This significantly reduces costs and can reduce the latency in product delivery. SAR has a number of non-military uses including environmental monitoring and imaging buried objects.

Matisse is an image exploitation tool used to process tactical reconnaissance imagery. At its heart is the use of sophisticated and novel image matching algorithms that dramatically improve geospatial accuracy with significant reductions in time taken over traditional methods.

Commenting on these technologies, James Kirby, the CEO of Ploughshare said: “Ploughshare is bringing a range of innovative and exciting technologies that were originally developed by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory to market. Although they were developed with defence in mind they have many wider applications. This underlines the innovative, cutting edge research that Dstl is undertaking on a daily basis.”

Through Ploughshare Dstl is delivering significant benefits to the UK’s economy. By 2018 it will have supported the creation of 500 jobs and generated exports of £223m.


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