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Airport detection and Tracking Of dangerous Materials by passive and active sensors arrays

Tags: Air

State of the Art - Background

Events such as 11 September 2001, the hijacking of Air France flight 8969 (1994) and many others in recent years repeatedly bring the problem of air transport security to the fore. This has always been a priority for the EU aviation industry, since airports represent a natural target for terrorist acts. Nevertheless, airport security measures have not always been effective and there are many past tragedies which were the result of people carrying explosive materials or weapons inside airports. Today, travellers are only quickly screened by walk-through metal detectors before entering the secure area, while X-ray machines are used for screening both hand and checked luggage.


The overall objective of ATOM is to design and develop an innovative detection and surveillance system that integrates active and passive radar sensors, which is able to enhance the security level in the airport areas by detecting hidden hazardous materials/tools and tracking people carrying these materials, without interfering with normal airport operations. While directly enhancing the airport security, the ATOM system will also indirectly contribute to protecting aircraft from terrorist or other criminal acts.

The ATOM system will be a non-intrusive but pervasive security system. Its pervasiveness derives from the capability of the ATOM sub-systems to monitor wide airport areas and detect many kinds of hidden hazardous objects.

The technical approach to be followed foresees two separate and integrated controls: one at the terminal accesses equipped with innovative active devices, which are able to detect and identify dangerous concealed tools; the other, in the airport halls before the gate area, will be equipped with new passive RF sensors which are able to track suspicious people/containers.

The integrated controls information will be managed securely within the airport information networks thus minimising the risk to other people inside the terminal area.

Description of Work

The development of the advanced surveillance system will integrate an innovative detection system with a new tracking system.

Imaging sensor at 15÷35 GHz frequency.

An active distributed Radio Frequency (RF) sensor system able to detect and track suspicious people concealing dangerous tools will be developed. It will consist of several active radar nodes in order to increase accuracy and performance. The processing techniques, including advanced tracking algorithms, will be designed and simulated in a realistic environment to support the performance analysis.

Imaging sensor at 75-110 GHz or THz frequency.

The objective is to detect, by multiple miniature 94-GHz/220-GHz radar sensors with subsequent Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image generation, dangerous objects such as metallic weapons hidden under clothes, to localise and then identify them using 3-D reconstruction.

Passive tracking system.

The development of a new passive radar sensor for the surveillance of the indoor public airport area, based on the best available electromagnetic source, will be analysed; the detection and localisation of designated human beings will be achieved by suitable signal processing techniques, and a multiple networked system approach will be evaluated.

Data management and data distribution.

A tracking filter, exploiting data from different sensors, will be developed in order to improve the accuracy.

Expected Results

The ATOM system, by developing an innovative and non-intrusive surveillance system, will enhance the security level in the terminal areas of airports by:

- preventing any hostile action and so protecting travellers and personnel from injury, loss, damage or disruption due to the effects of terrorism;

- ensuring enhanced security in air transport;

- developing a system which complements other security systems already in use in airports;

- the application of a wide range of concepts, innovative solutions and technologies which are able to improve security aspects in airports;

- securing and further developing the competitiveness attained by European industries in the global market;

- guaranteeing security by preventing acts of unlawful interference.

Main blocks of the atom system
Main blocks of the atom system