Maritime Security Sensor Network Based on Ultra-Wideband Electromagnetic Waves Forward Scattering phenomena

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Electronic, Electrical and Computer Eng


A maritime security forward scattering sensor network is a novel and cost-effective system to protect national offshore assets and interests. Maritime security and related national economical and political interests are strategically important priorities for the UK Government and the world community in general. The most recent example can be found in the Persian Gulf, a region which sees billions of pounds of merchant traffic annually and where a lack of maritime security has created opportunities for piracy. Another example is the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (the result of technical problems) which demonstrated the cost of this kind of maritime catastrophe which might make it a potentially attractive target for a terrorist attack. It also highlighted the problem of the detection and dynamic tracking of oil spills.
A number of systems are currently employed for the remote monitoring of the sea surface. Each system has its own capabilities and limitations. It seems unlikely, therefore, that any one system could be developed to solve all the problems of sea monitoring with a resolution sufficient to permit the detection and automatic identification of small objects. The solution lies in a combination of systems. For this reason, the introduction of new tools and specifically tools capable of filling the gaps in the existing security systems is very much welcomed.
This project aims to develop a brand-new, cost-effective security sensor network for maritime application. The proposed system would be maintained on a chain of light anchored buoys spread over a range of several miles equipped with ultra-wideband (UWB) forward scatter (FS) sensors enabling earlier automatic detection and identification of non-cooperative intruders in all-weather conditions. The network targets the detection of low-visible, small, and potentially low-speed maritime targets such as boats (which might be used for suicide missions or for smuggling people, drugs or weapons); semi-submerged objects (lost containers or icebergs dangerous for maritime traffic and offshore installations); environmental control (oil spill detection); etc. The system could be used where more traditional monitoring tools are unable to operate and would replace or complement them. It would be effective for emerging maritime situations, e.g. to protect offshore wind energy farms and EEZ boundary, to track the routes of pirates and so forth. The engineering outputs from the project will include a demonstration and testing of the system fragment in real marine conditions leading to a detailed production specification of the system developed with industrial partners and end users. Eventually a brand new product would be developed and manufactured for the world market and it would bring economic benefits to the UK and strengthen its position in the high-tech market.

Planned Impact

The proposed maritime security sensor network could operate independently or complement existing systems The research and introduction of this new maritime surveillance system will initially have an impact on the defence and security sectors. Subsequent impact can be expanded to other possible areas including the environmental protection of waterways and coastal waters. The project includes components of fundamental and generic study which will be of use to the wider scientific community. We are expecting that a study in FS UWB EMW propagation above sea surface will also facilitate the introduction of UWB communication systems for maritime users and systems for oil spill detection in potentially dangerous areas. This project will produce engineering components which can be applied elsewhere and as a consequence we expect the project to be monitored by industrial institutions interested in translating research results into commercial products. The project is original and challenging and we anticipate high-volume production and export of the system to have a direct impact on the economy and establish a stronger UK position in the international high-tech market. Liaison with beneficiaries and dissemination will be spearheaded by the Investigators in collaboration with the Project Advisory Group (PAG).
Microwave-based remote-sensing tools are conventionally based on the EMW reflection phenomena, while the proposed system relies on the FS effect and is technically closer to communication systems. This makes it possible to use low-cost COTS components from the communications area. As a result the proposed system will be cost-effective in production. Due to the expected high performance and the system's unique ability to fill specific gaps in the current range of remote-sensing technology, we expect it will have widespread and global applications which should result in significant export opportunities for UK-based manufacturers.
This will include end users such as companies and organisations responsible for security and manufacturers of sensor and surveillance systems (making profits from production and distribution). This will in turn lead to a major stimulus for the defence and security industries which employ a large number of people in the UK and contribute a major part of the UK Industrial base. This will feed through and have a substantial economic impact on the UK economy in general. Many defence and security-related companies like SELEX, BAE Systems, QinetiQ, Thales and others are considering sensor networks (distributed sensors, smart sensors, etc.) as the key direction in their high-level system development. In the maritime domain, the concept of "Smart Buoys" technology is very popular worldwide
Title Database of FSR Signals 
Description A large database of experimental data collected during 2012-2015 in real maritime conditions in various environments. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Publications based on large data set. Developed models based on data set. Signal processing algorithms based on data set. Collaboration with other research groups. 
Title Synthetic Environment for Modelling of FSR Scenarios 
Description Synthetic Environment for Modelling of arbitrary FSR Scenarios and radar parameters. 
Type Of Material Computer model/algorithm 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Publications. Facilitation of further development of more complex configuration of FSR systems. 
Description Joint research project funded by SOFIA UNIVERSITY ST. KLIMENT OHRIDSKI 
Organisation Sofia University
Department Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics
Country Bulgaria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided all experimentation equipment, models, conducted experimental trials and collected database which has been used in joint publications.
Collaborator Contribution Provided assistance with experimentation including equipment transportation and permissions form local authorities in Bulgaria, contribution into more than 10 pubications.
Impact Joint publications, 1 journal and a number of conference publications.
Start Year 2012
Description SELEX Luton 
Organisation Selex ES
Department SELEX Galileo Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Developed demonstrator of a single node maritime FSR to TRL 4-5.
Collaborator Contribution Funding. Steering committee meetings. Technical assistance on trials.
Impact Developed demonstrator of a single node maritime FSR to TRL 4-5. Strengthened collaboration and continued research discussions and future planned research activities.
Start Year 2009
Description UCL 
Organisation University College London
Department Faculty of Engineering Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint experimental data collection, in which we provided our set of experimental equipment. Joint publication. Consortium partner on the same EPSRC grant (EP/J008419/1).
Collaborator Contribution Joint experimental data collection in which UCL provided their set of experimental equipment. Joint publication. Consortium partner on the same EPSRC grant (EP/J008419/1).
Impact First reported comparison of bistatic and forward scatter radar performance experimentally obtained in the same maritime scenario. Strengthened collaboration between two radar groups resulting in further grant proposals in particular H2020 BES-4 proposal with another 11 leading research organisations in Europe. Participation in NATO SET groups. Organising research seminars which defined the future UK radar strategy.
Start Year 2012
Description University of Pisa - Exchange students and joint bids for EU projects, NATO SET participation 
Organisation University of Pisa
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Prof. M. Cherniakov, Dr. M.Antoniou, Dr. M. Gashinova and memebrs of the research group have supervised one research PhD student and currently are supervising two research students (MSc and PhD) who came to University of Birmingham for 6-12 months. We took part in two joint EU bids ("PACIFIC" and "SEDA") , as well as one EDA bid ("FERMI") We are involved in research activities in NATO SET 196.
Collaborator Contribution Prof. F. Berizzi and Prof. M.Martorella regularly discussed research ideas and supply us with research students working on our projects. We took part in two joint EU bids ("PACIFIC" and "SEDA") , as well as one EDA bid ("FERMI", PI- Prof. Berizzi) We are involved in research activities in NATO SET 196. (Chair - Prof. M. Martorella)
Impact Joint trials in Livorno on ISAR multichannel/multistatic radar with groups from Germany, Italy, Poland, UK
Start Year 2011
Title Aquisition and control software for FSR demonstrator 
Description Software to allow coherent signal acquisition from multiple channels of developed radar system. Control software to control mode of operation and parameters of radar. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact Ability to provide real time real condition maritime FSR demonstrator. 
Title Automatic Target Detection Software FSR 
Description Not real time automatic CA-CFAR detection based on non-coherent, coherent and cross correlation approaches. Further plan to implement in real time. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Impact Presented to industrial collaborators proving capabilities and potential of FSR. 
Title Maritime FSR Full Demonstrator 
Description Compact multi-frequency, multi-channel transmitters and receivers, equipped with multiple antennas, mounted on buoys. All have been fully developed in the laboratory, tested in real conditions which lead to establishing of range of FSR capabilities. The system has progressed to the TRL-5 level. 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2015 
Impact Provided the ability to use equipment in many research activities including international collaboration and bids for UK/EU funding. Puts the research at the level comparable with industrial research and development products. 
Description NATO SET UK REP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact UK representative in NATO SET Group, leading to wide collaboration and knowledge transfer with leading international research groups in areas related to our research.
Joint NATO trials in Italy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016
Description Organised focus Forward Scatter Radar session on the IRS - 2019 conference (Germany) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact there is a raising interest in Forward Scatter Technology and a number of academic and industrial colleagues asked about organizing a focussed event.
As a world-leading expert in the technology, Prof. Mikhail Cherniakov was invited to organize a focussed session on FSR at International Radar Symposium (IRS 2019) in Ulm Germany.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description School visit Welbeck College 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Provided presentation and demonstration of hardware to visiting group of school children during out reach day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012