Sensors and Signatures

Sensor and signature research covers surveillance, remote reconnaissance and signature management. The purpose of sensor research is to evaluate, demonstrate and develop new or increased sensor capability in support of defence and security.

Elevate sensors for evaluation and developement.

The research mainly concerns sensor systems in the fields of radar and optics with advanced image and signal processing including data fusion. The applied research in this area is oriented towards experi­mental work and involves close international collaboration. Sensor systems have to function in an environment of interference and to be able to detect hidden and masked objects. The physical properties of objects in the surround­ings and the effects of the atmosphere are therefore important areas for research. With regard to signatures, research activity is oriented towards signature material and signature modelling. Apart from research and development we also undertake application-oriented training.

The level of threats, from weapons systems equipped with advanced sensors, against the materiel and personnel of the Armed Forces is increasing. This places greater demands on signature management so that survivability is maximised.

Several fields where progress in materials science has been made, such as functional textiles, photonic crystals, and biomimetic material, are expected to have significance for signature management technology in the future. Advances in sensor technology, just as much in new and improved sensor technology as in advanced imaging algorithms, raise the threat level and place new demands on signature management.

FOI is developing modern methods for measuring detectability, performing computer simulations of new products and is considering technologies for material development.

The activities can be divided into two technology fields, Static Camouflage and Dynamic Camouflage, with the latter still at a lower level of maturity.

Signature management protects on three levels

Signature management technology increases survivability by:

  1. preventing discovery
  2. delaying identification
  3. hindering strikes with terminal phase-controlled weapons.

Research activity in the IR area is primarily oriented towards warning, reconnai­ssance and surveillance systems and systems for target acquisition and tracking. Another important area is the analysis and evaluation of signatures for different military platforms and counter­measures. The majority of applications are to be found in the defence and security sectors.

Ongoing development work in the IR area is focused mainly on three important components: new multi/hyper­spectral and polarimetric sensor technologies that make use of nanotechnology, new powerful signal processors with enhanced compu­tational capacity, and new advances in image processing leading to a deeper understanding of how the sensor information is extracted. FOI’s body of expertise spans such areas as radiometry, signatures, sensors and sensor systems, signal and image processing as well as modelling and simulation.

The research is conducted in close international collaboration through organisations such as the European Defence Agency (EDA) and NATO.

Laser systems research covers technology, phenomena and systems involving laser applications. Important military applications being studied include reconnaissance, target acquisition, target recognition, communi­cation and electronic warfare. In the area of safety and security, studies also include the detection of hazardous substances.

Current projects include target recognition, optical reconnaissance including laser-based counter­measures and effects, laser protection, optical fibre hydrophones, detection of biological agents, mine detection and lidar for atmospheric and underwater applications.

New laser-based methods are being developed for the detection of biological agents and for three-dimensional imaging for above water and underwater applications. Laser technology is being developed and demonstrated for electro-optical counter­measures. For research in this area there is a sound laboratory, a 100 metre-long hall for optical measure­ments and a comprehensive range of instrumentation including lasers and laser systems as well as advanced cameras and measuring instruments.

Research is conducted internationally in collaboration with EDA, national research laboratories and various NATO Groups.

Activities are focused on development and evaluation of long range radar systems and demon­strators based on SAR (synthetic aperture radar) for airborne platforms and satellites.

We also work on the evaluation of cooperating sensor systems, digital multifunction radar, signal processing and various kinds of technical expert support and studies in the field of sensors.

Activities cover:

  • The development of airborne VHF/UHF SAR
  • Monostatic and bistatic SAR
  • Detection of seaborne targets with low signatures through cooperating electro-optical (EO) sensors 
  • Signal processing
  • Evaluation of multifunction radars and group antennas
  • System analysis and evaluation of multiple cooperative sensor systems

Research in this area is oriented towards technology and demonstra­tors for short and long range radar systems.

For many of our applications, the ability to “see through” is of key importance. This may mean ground penetration for the purpose of detecting leaking water pipes or unexploded ordnance (UXO), seeing through snow or avalanche debris to measure the depth of snow or to locate survivors, seeing through walls and doors to detect hidden persons, or seeing through clothing and packaging to detect concealed weapons or explosives. 

We also study energy-efficient, flexible and compact group antennas for reconnai­ssance and surveillance systems. Areas of application include, for example, radar sensors for UAVs.

The research activity covers:

  • Components, circuits and antenna integration, primarily for millimetric and THz frequencies
  • Transmitter and receiver modules
  • Architectures for group antennas
  • Technology demonstrators

In the area of sensor informatics we are engaged in applied research concerned primarily with defence and security applications. The aim is often to increase situation awareness/under­standing for users of military or civil reconnaissance, warning or surveillance systems.

The research entails automatic high-level analysis of data from both individual sensors and multi-sensor systems and sensor networks involving above-surface sensors. Sensors that we focus on include various types of radar, optical or acoustic sensors.

The work entails new methods and technical systems for:

  • automatic image recording and sensor/image calibration
  • automatic feature extraction and classification of unknown objects and their properties based on sensor data
  • automatic detection, positioning and tracking of persons, vehicles and other mobile objects based on sensor data
  • automatic analysis of behaviour or activities of persons, vehicles and other objects based on sensor data
  • automatic fusion of information about objects and their activities/behaviour from different sensors
  • automatic control of sensors for the optimal gathering of sensor data
  • handling and analysis of geographical information with the focus on 3D environment models
  • modelling and simulation of multi-sensor systems.


Last updated: 2019-06-20