Sense-through-the-Wall Technology Detects Adversaries, Hidden Compartments

In preparation for an exercise to “Gain a Foothold,” a Soldier uses one of the ATO technology demonstrators to determine the location of any personnel near the door and adjacent rooms of the target building. (Photo: CERDEC)

In preparation for an exercise to “Gain a Foothold,” a Soldier uses one of the ATO technology demonstrators to determine the location of any personnel near the door and adjacent rooms of the target building. (Photo: CERDEC)

Scientists and engineers from across the U.S. Army, academia and industry are presenting their research this week in Orlando, Fla. at the 2010 Army Science Conference. The conference seeks to enable Army and DoD leaders, Congress and the public to understand the scope of the Army’s science and technology efforts to rapidly develop technologies in support of the Army and the Nation.

About the author: Wilbur Chin is an electronics engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s communications-electronics center (CERDEC). A team lead in CERDEC’s Intelligence & Information Warfare Directorate (I2WD), Wilbur has managed the Suite of STTW Systems Army Technology Objective.

Military operations are becoming increasingly urban centric and our ability to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance on combatants is severely hindered as they retreat indoors.  The Army is committed to providing the Soldier with the capability to locate potential hostile targets deep inside urban structures with sense-through-the-wall (STTW) technology.

The Suite of STTW Systems Army Technology Objective, managed by CERDEC I2WD during FY04-FY08, developed a capability for dismounted Soldiers to detect and locate personnel who are hidden behind various types of walls, doors and other obstructions.  The successful demonstration of STTW technology has resulted in its transition to a Program of Record.

CERDEC I2WD is providing support to the Program of Record as well as continuing its research of detecting personnel, concealed weapons and explosives and other devices of interest in complex and urban terrain through partnerships with the Army Research Lab and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

During an exercise, a Soldier uses one of the ATO technology demonstrators to assess whether anyone is present in the nearby building. (Photo: CERDEC)

During an exercise, a Soldier uses one of the ATO technology demonstrators to assess whether anyone is present in the nearby building. (Photo: CERDEC)

STTW provides situational awareness information to the Soldier to assist in gaining footholds in buildings and for room-clearing operations.  The Soldier-borne STTW sensors weigh less than six pounds and can be operated up to 20 meters away from the wall.  Each unit has a display that provides range and azimuth information of detected targets to the operator.

These sensors will be able to provide information with regard to adversary numbers and locations behind walls.  Troops equipped with the sensors may decide to utilize them during deliberate searches of rooms that may contain possible hidden compartments.

The bottom line is that STTW technology provides Soldiers with a new Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capability to detect and locate moving and stationary personnel behind obstructions from a standoff distance.

In January 2010, STTW was a featured technology at the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, TX.  A hands-on STTW demonstration was given to attendees from the general public to the Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

Learn more about the Army’s advancements in C4ISR technologies and sensors & information processing during the 2010 Army Science Conference.

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