The demonstration project for the use of fully autonomous drones in security CBRNe applications was launched at the end of 2020. The project financed by the Czech Republic's contribution to the ESA Space Solutions program will be implemented in the period 2021 and 2022 and takes place in cooperation with end users of these systems: the Fire and Rescue Service, the army and other security forces. The project is co-financed and monitored by the European Defense Agency (EDA).
Technology companies GINA Software s.r.o. and Fly4Future s.r.o. in addition to BizGarden s.r.o., state enterprises Vojenský výzkumný ústav s.p. in Brno and the Military Technical Institute, s.p. in Prague in consortium represents Czech Republic. The Polish partner of the consortium is the technology company Cervi Robotics Sp.z o.o. from Rzeszow.
The demonstration project was preceded by a feasibility study, during which security forces were contacted and the organizations involved. This created the concept of two systems that can simplify interventions and increase security in large-scale events with suspected CBRNe threats.
The CBRN Action Plan aims to make unauthorised access to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials as difficult as possible.
Prevention is based on robust risk assessment processes, which include:
- Securing high-risk CBRN materials and facilities
- Developing a security culture for staff
- Improving transport security
- Exchanging information
- Establishing import and export regimes
- Strengthening cooperation on the security of nuclear materials
Key actions are designed to reduce the threat from CBRN incidents of accidental, natural and intentional origin, including terrorist activities. A prime area of attention are major accident hazards.
While the responsibility for protecting populations against CBRN incidents stays with member states, the CBRN Action Plan is a political commitment guided by the principles of EU solidarity and adding value. It is based on existing regulations and developed in close consultation with national authorities.
The plan aims to respond efficiently to incidents involving CBRN materials and recover them as quickly as possible. Specific attention is given to developing CBRN emergency planning, countermeasures, information flows, modelling tools and capacity for criminal investigations.
In its effort to combat terrorism, securing the availability of explosives is a priority for the European Commission.
The systems are based on the use of drones, which in this case perform flights in fully autonomous operation. This means that after setting the operating parameters, the operator no longer intervenes in their operation. Two applications were selected for the demonstration project. Applications for monitoring large-scale interventions - fires in industrial facilities, large-scale accidents, etc. and an automatic system for capturing enemy drones carrying potentially dangerous CBRNe cargo, spray substances, radioactive substances or explosives.
The teams will address technical issues, such as fully autonomous take-off and landing of the drone, the safety of its flight so as not to endanger the intervening units or the safe operation of other aircraft over the area of interest. They will also deal with the collection and transmission of data, their display and evaluation for intervening teams in real time.
The project thus enters an absolutely fundamental phase, ie the implementation of a fully functional solution in real conditions. The mounting of the sensors will be modular and industrially scalable for commercial production and application.
According to the new regulations in the field of use and operation of drones, which enter into force throughout the European Union this year, the parameters of operation necessary to obtain all certifications for the deployment of systems in real conditions will be discussed.
"We have been dealing with fully autonomous services provided by unmanned aerial vehicles, drones, for several years. We designed the first applications for marketing purposes at a time when such services were unimaginable under the legislation of the time. With the rapid development of these technologies and adapting to European legislation, fully autonomous drones will become a reality in the near future. Security and protection applications will be pioneers in this regard,” says Luděk Kühr, BizGarden's advisor.
Vadym Melnyk from the Polish technology company Cervi Robotics adds: "I am very optimistic and I believe that already at the time of the demonstration project we will convince the first clients to buy our systems under normal commercial conditions."
"The combination of sophisticated detection, an identification and monitoring kit with the involvement of the full range of satellite services promises to help create powerful CBRN protection for both European military and civilian users. At the same time, the project intersects with a number of other EDA research objectives in the areas of counter-terrorism, port protection, critical infrastructure protection, logistics and on-site medical surveillance. In other words, the combination of features and functionalities of the proposed system can be applied in many ways ", concluded Ali Shahzad from the European Defense Agency EDA.