Tuesday, 01 September 2009 18:05
TALOS is an international research project co-funded from EU 7th Framework Programme funds in Security priority. The main objective of TALOS project is to develop and field test the innovative concept of a mobile, autonomous system for protecting European land borders. The conventional border protection systems are based mainly on expensive ground facilities installed along the entire length of the border complemented by human patrols. The system developed within the TALOS project will be more versatile, efficient, flexible and cost effective.
The complete system applies both aerial and ground unmanned vehicles, supervised by command and control centre. The ground platforms will be both the watching stations and the first reaction patrols, which will inform the Control and Command Centre and an illegal imigrant about her/his situation, and will undertake the proper measures to stop the illegal action almost autonomously with supervision of Border Guard Officers. It shall be emphasised that no other action than observing and detecting illegal entry attempts will be taken by vehicles, thus there is no risk to human health and life.
The most important features of the system are scalability, autonomous operation, mobility, adaptability and modular construction. Through its flexibility it will be easy to adjust the system to the local requirements such as border length and topographic conditions. Important role in the project is given to Border Guards from countries with EU external land border in order to tailor system to end user needs and requirements.
TALOS project consortium has adequate resources to face the challenge. The system will be developed by experts working for 14 institutions from 8 EU member states (Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Poland, Romania, Spain) as well as 1 EU candidate (Turkey) and 1 associated country (Israel). A wide range of the necessary competencies has been ensured by composing the consortium of industrial companies, research institutions, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a technical university. Project budget sums up to about 20 million Euro, 13 million of which has been granted by the EC.
Motivation behind the TALOS project
Character of the eastern border of the European Union (EU) has changed diametrically in consequence of the EU extension in the recent years, when more than 10 countries, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, have joined the Union. Nature of the new external EU border differs from the one before the accession. The frontier in its current shape extends between Finland in the North and Bulgaria in the South of Europe. It is diversified with regard to topographic characteristics, climatic conditions, as well as probability of occurrence and intensity of illegal activities. The borders of new member states, shared with the former Soviet Union countries, are particularly exposed to illicit trafficking. This part of the eastern EU frontier is a buffer between the relative prosperity of the West and the poverty of the former Soviet Republics. The average salaries on its West side are much higher than the ones on the East side. The border might be used as the Union’s backdoor for illegal immigration and as an area of illicit activities, such as human trafficking and smuggling. European Union is aware of the challenges created by the new frontier. Border security mission is one of the priority security missions recognized by the European Security Research Advisory Board (ESRAB) and European Commission. FRONTEX with its headquarters in the capital of Poland is one of the agencies that were established in order to co-ordinate EU activities related with border protection. EUROSUR (European Surveillance System for Borders) is another initiative aimed at preventing and counteracting the illegal immigration.
Features of the TALOS system
Transportable Adaptable Patrol for Land Border Surveillance (TALOS) is a robotic system that will address the problems of surveillance of the large land border areas, which is one of the capabilities critical for the border security mission recognized by the European Commission. The aim of TALOS is to help in detecting, tracking and preventing persons from crossing the land border illegally between the border crossing points. Its goals are in line with the concept of European Surveillance System for Borders (EUROSUR) and conclusions of the European Security Research Advisory Board (ESRAB). A prototype of the TALOS system, serving as a proof-of-concept, is going to be designed, implemented and tested in a research project under the 7th EU Framework Programme.
To meet the requirements connected with the diversified nature of the Eastern EU land border, the system should be adaptable, transportable and cost-efficient. These features are going to be achieved by using unmanned patrolling vehicles with a high level of autonomy and controlled from transportable Unmanned Unit Command Centre (UUCC), in place of the fixed infrastructure consisting of fences and static sensors. Semi-autonomous operation of the vehicles will allow efficient monitoring of large areas without engagement of large human resources. The main benefits of this approach are:
Transportability of the system – initiatives like CRATE (Centralized Record of Available Technical Equipment) and RABIT (Rapid Border Intervention Teams) have shown that EU member states are ready for sharing the equipment and personnel for border surveillance in case of emergency. TALOS system can be used in the same manner. The possibility of deployment in distant mission areas, unavailable in case of systems based on static infrastructure, is going to ensure the effective utilization of the system.
Adaptability of the system – the intended versatility of the system demands a design, which allows the high degree of adaptability, with regard to topographic conditions, intensity and probability of illegal operations in the border section. TALOS system will be easily configurable to meet the requirements of a particular mission area, by selecting an accordant set of unmanned vehicles to be deployed. Selection of number and configuration of the vehicles will provide adaptability both to the length of the border section and the specific of illicit activity. Availability of different types of unmanned platforms will enable the maximum adaptation to the terrain conditions. The system can also be scaled on a higher level of command, by adjusting the number of Unmanned Unit Command Centres, supervising and controlling the operation of unmanned units, and commanded by a transportable Theatre Command Centre;
Semi-autonomous operation – autonomy of the vehicles patrolling the border is the key success factor of the concept behind the TALOS system. A system can be used for effective surveillance of large areas only when a minimum engagement of the operator is ensured. This is connected with the effectiveness of the system, both in terms of engagement of human resources and economy. Autonomy of the Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) in TALOS system is a particular challenge. The vehicles are going to operate in a complex and variable environment. To meet this challenge vehicles will use precise terrain models, laser scanners and state of the art navigation modules.
While introducing advantages over systems based on static infrastructure (fences and static sensors) TALOS will to maintain their high effectiveness. The system is going to allow the Border Guards to react to trespassing within minutes. The vehicles can engage or trace illegal immigrant before the arrival of manned forces. This ensures the person not being left unattended since he/she has been detected by the sensors.
Proposed TALOS architecture
Figure 1. The proposed architecture of the TALOS system
Prototype of the system will be composed of the Unmanned Unit Command Centre (UUCC) and two Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs). Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) and transportable Sensor Tower will be integrated into the system in future. In the first phase of the project communication with these elements is going to be simulated. Proposed architecture of the TALOS system is presented in figure 2.
The Unmanned Units Command Centre (UUCC) will be used to control and monitor the operation of the Unmanned Units. Mission commander and operators of the unmanned vehicles are going to be seated at the Operator Control Units (OCUs). These will allow Border Guard officers to plan the surveillance mission and control the vehicles, and provide also an operational awareness in the mission area. The commander will be presented with a visualization of the mission area, including position of the system elements, patrol routes and data from all the sensors, on different map layers. Personnel operating the UGV’s and UAV’s OCUs will have the possibility of viewing the information from sensors carried by the vehicles, as well as planning vehicle routes and operating the vehicles manually.
Commands and data flow between the command centre and system’s end units will be ensured by the communication network. Wireless network for TALOS system is going to be implemented in MESH architecture. The main goal of its design is the network reliability, which is crucial to the whole system’s performance.
Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) will be designed to constantly patrol the border section. Vehicles will be equipped with long-range detectors of moving vehicles and people, as well as sensors allowing the operator to recognize the detected subjects. They are going to be controlled from the UUCC: either ‘driven’ by the operator, using a kind of ‘joystick’ and cameras carried by the vehicle or, in semi-autonomous mode of operation, being ordered to drive from one point in the mission area to another without ‘hands-on control’. The latter will be possible owing to state-of-the-art navigation systems and advanced mechanisms of obstacle detection and avoiding.
Two types of vehicles will be implemented: the Observer, used for patrolling the given section, and the Interceptor, used for engaging the illegal immigrant before arrival of the Border Patrol. The Interceptor will enable communication of the operator with the trespasser, for example by means of a microphone and loudspeaker.
Animated simulation of the TALOS system operation.
Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) will be responsible for the aerial surveillance and can be used as communication node in particular situations. The prototype will not contain the UAV. In order to make TALOS system ready for future UAV integration, the interaction of UAV OCU (console for UAV management) with other subsystems will be simulated by the computer in UUCC.
Sensor Towers will be deployed in places requiring ceaseless surveillance 24/7, or in places not accessible to the vehicles. The towers can be used both for sensor placement and as communication nodes. They will be transportable together with the whole system. In the 1st phase of TALOS, data flow between the towers and other subsystems will be simulated. The towers will be implemented in future project phases.
The main innovation introduced by system proposed in TALOS multidisciplinary project are as follows:
- Scalability - its ability to easily change the system scale due to changes in the requirements and local conditions such as border size, topography, density of surveillance elements etc. Another system feature is its adaptability behaviour, changes in the security scenario of a specific border or area, due to new intelligence information or update in immigrant’s behaviour, threat assessment, designated means, etc.
- Autonomous capability based on sets of rules (artificial intelligence) - programmed in the computers of the UGV's and the Command & Control system. This sets of rules are actually a translation of procedures used by the border guards in the daily routine and emergency operations. These rules should be modified from time to time, to adapt the system to the new tactics adopted by the immigrants which is actually the way they try to by pass the new "obstacles" preventing them from performing their tasks.
- Mobility/transportability - The whole system will be easily transportable installed in standard containers (20 ft and / or 40 ft), transported on trailers for fast deployment in selected border zones (according to intelligence). The system will be moving in convoys to the designated location, where possible (ground access), can be airlifted by helicopters to locations not accessible and is transportable by air in C-130 aircraft (or alike) to provide air deployment, within the country and between countries, all over Europe. The Command Centres, the UGVs and UAVs will be installed in containers and mounted on trailers, the Sensor Towers (transmitters), are also mounted on trailers. Once reaching the designated deployment area, the trailers are disconnected from the towing Trucks, located, fixed in place, levelled etc., and system components are connected with all the necessary command cables, power supply cables, support equipment, etc.
- Tactical Learning/Adaptation behaviour - During development process, system will be adapted to local operational requirements, operators will be consulted, and their needs implemented in system mission planning module. The TALOS system is designed having Man-in-the-Loop. It enables voice engagement of the immigrant. System uses adaptive artificial intelligence to implement various tactical techniques, in the specific patrol scenario, area of operation, border topography, etc.
- No need for fixed infrastructure or fences - TALOS system owing to its mobility and transportability do not require any fixed infrastructure. Sensors and cameras can be installed on UGVs. All UGVs and UAVs, including their supply and maintenance equipment will be stored in their own containers, as well as all crew equipment, dormitories, kitchen, toilets, supplies etc. After deployment, the containers will be camouflaged, and from there platforms will be launched to perform surveillance tasks (automatically) and return for refuelling, servicing and maintenance.
- Enables response to an illegal entry attempt in minutes - system will respond to an illegal entry attempt in the matter of minutes, not hours.
- Usage of "green" energy - the energy in remote locations (where it is impossible to connect to standard power lines) will be coming from the natural sources e.g. solar panels (sunny area), wind towers (windy area), water wheels (near to rivers). Moreover the generators will be used when none of these sources is available.
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The final demonstration of the project results was held on 17-18 April 2012 in Wrocław, Poland, at the training ground owned by the Gen. Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces under the name ‘TALOS Demo Day’.read more
Poland, 17-18 April 2012. The TALOS Consortium is proud to announce that the final demonstration of the project results will be held on 18 April 2012 in Wrocław, Poland, at the training ground owned by the Gen. Tadeusz Kościuszko Milit...read more
The third Review Meeting and Workshop with End-users was held on 12.10.2011 at the Demo Area in Wrocław, Poland - training ground owned by the TALOS contributor Gen. Tadeusz Kościuszko Military Academy of Land Forces. The meeting was a...read more
The third Review Meeting and Workshop with End-users will be held at the Demo Area in Wrocław, Poland. The meeting will be attended by the Project Officer - Mr Grzegorz Ambroziewicz, and two appointed Reviewers: Dr Gregorio Ameyugo of ...read more