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EPE demonstrates DIH-funded chemical and explosives detector

Brisbane company EPE has successfully demonstrated a stand-off chemical and explosive detection capability developed under two successive Defence Innovation Hub (DIH) contracts.

With Defence focused on human-machine teaming to remove soldiers and operators from immediate threats, EPE was awarded a Phase 3 DIH contract to advance the stand-off detector for a maritime boarding party that was delivered in the previous phase. The challenge for Phase 3 was to miniaturise the Hand-held Stand-off Raman (HSR) detection unit and integrate it into uncrewed platforms in order to increase the stand-off and further remove the operator from the threat.

EPE has showcased this capability to Defence through a scenario-based demonstration highlighting the handheld capability of the detector and the increased stand-off ranges achieved through integration onto uncrewed platforms. Through this, EPE’s team of engineers were able to perform positive identification of threats up to 100m away from operators.

In addition, the demonstration highlighted the results that were achieved and verified through independent testing of the detector by Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). This illustrated the range of threats contained within the HSR library and the distances at which the detector was achieving positive identifications.

EPE’s Innovation Manager, Robbie Wild said, “the miniaturisation of this capability, and the development of a modularised approach to integrating it onto uncrewed systems opens up a variety of possibilities for the deployment and operation of other sensors, which can all successfully contribute to removing humans from threat environments, which is our underlying goal.”

One Army participant at the demonstration commented, “The potential from this project is only limited by our creativity.” EPE’s plans for the future of this Project include increasing stand-off range and trace detection capabilities of the system; looking at using the technology within specific mission sets; and progressing autonomous delivery solutions. This reinforces the importance of the DIH and the integral role it is playing in the development of innovative Australian sovereign capability, says the company.

The increased use of robotics and autonomous capabilities will fundamentally change the way the Army fights. This project achieves a number of the Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Strategy goals : increasing situational awareness, reducing the soldier’s physical and cognitive workloads, facilitating movement and manoeuvre, increasing reach and range, and force protection, ultimately replacing soldiers in some of the most dangerous tasks.

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