The future battlespace will be a complex environment characterised by known and unknown threats, modern and legacy sensor systems, a congested RF spectrum, and mobile and static forces. Information is key in warfare but future conflicts are likely be characterised by an increased level of complexity in intelligence gathering and analysis. Unless such complexity can be overcome, the effectiveness of critical decision making and operational actions will be reduced. Furthermore many of these issues are mirrored in civilian contexts and therefore the contributions from the programme will have wider impact.
Legacy, current and future sensor systems will provide ever more data for subsequent analysis hence advances in technology will be essential to ensure that they can be optimally exploited. The outputs of sensors of different modalities, capabilities and locations within the battlespace will need to be combined in multiple ways so that such optimal exploitation can be ensured in a wide variety of operations at all levels of conflict. However, at the same time, the electronic environments in which such conflicts will take place are likely to pose greater problems as the availability of bandwidth becomes ever more restricted.
Given the significant operational and technical challenges outlined above, our desired outcome for the research programme is to identify techniques and technology that will increase the situational awareness of our fighting forces to a level that will represent a significant increase in the probability of mission success. This will be achieved, inter-alia, by the efficient, effective and timely processing and communication of the wide range of available sensor data.
Specifically, we, will provide transformational new signal processing solutions which exploit multi-sensor and multimodal data, whilst retaining bandwidth and computational efficiency, to maximize the UK’s defence capabilities and its broader academic and industrial skill-base in signal and data processing. In particular, we believe that networked-enabled distributed sensing should provide new capabilities such as combating stealth. However this potentially increases the complexity of the processing task. This could be mitigated by new signal-separation/beamforming algorithms utilising sparsity concepts. Control and management of distributed sensors could be costly in terms of network traffic so systems that are able to interact without central control would be preferable. Finally, in order to protect this new networked-enhanced sensing paradigm, aspects of cyber-security will play an important role. A measure of our success will be the extent to which our signal processing solutions have enhanced the defence technology base.
In addition to this we aim to build a healthy community of practice in defence signal processing spanning academia, industry and government. Through this we envisage the emergence of the next generation of signal processing engineers to strengthen the UK’s leading position in this area.
The aim of the UDRC is to develop unprecedented research in signal processing with application to the defence industry and share knowledge, promote communications, guidance and training. The formation of consortia will bring together researchers from across the different aspects of signal processing to address the research challenges of operating in a networked battlespace. This will form part of a wider collaborative centre of excellence for signal processing that embraces academia, Research and Technology Organisations, defence manufacturing industries and the Defence Technology Centres. This collaboration will support a cutting edge signal and data processing capability in the UK, and lead to potentially greater research impact.
UDRC Phase 1 Research commenced in 2009 and finished in 2013 and explores the two main themes of Classification and Multimodal Fusion and Detection, Localisation and Tracking. This work was led and coordinated by Imperial College London.
UDRC Phase 2 Research commenced its phase of work in 2013, this ambitious 5 year project was complete in 2018 and it focused on "Signal Processing in a Networked Battlespace". This research delivered integrated multi-sensor systems as well as limiting data overload and maximising data relevance within the network, through novel acquisition, processing and sensor management.
UDRC Phase 3 will be announcing their research themes soon.