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Weapons: Mechanical Warriors Guard The Hostile Borders
   Next Article → SOMALIA: Ugandan Troops Want A License To Kill
July 16, 2010: South Korea has begun installing unmanned guard towers, equipped with sensors and machine-guns, along the DMZ (demilitarized zone). On the other side of the four kilometers wide DMZ is North Korea. Since the Korean war ended in 1953, the North Koreans have frequently sent commandos across the DMZ to do some damage, or just to show that they could do it. The last two incursions were four years ago. In both cases, South Korea troops fired on the northern soldiers, who then retreated. Last year, in a rare event, a South Korean criminal sought to escape arrest by crossing the DMZ into North Korea, where he sought asylum.

The new, unmanned guard towers on the DMZ are there to spare South Korean troops the tedium of manning such positions, and the risks that the North Korean might shoot at them for no reason. That happens fairly frequently. For these towers, the South Koreans are using ideas and concepts already developed and implemented in Israel.

Over the last four years, Israeli firms have developed and installed a network of remotely controlled weapons for guarding the Gaza security fence. This is not just a fence, but a network of sensors for detecting Palestinian terrorists attempting to cross, or set up bombs for use against Israeli patrols. The Israeli border with Gaza is 51 kilometers long, and most of it is in desert or semi-desert terrain. For a long time, most of the border was patrolled by troops in vehicles, while parts of it, near gates, were also guarded by manned watchtowers. But the Palestinian terrorists have been persistent in attacking the fence, and trying to get through it. None have ever succeeded, and survived. But the patrols were often attacked. One Israeli soldier was kidnapped four years ago, and some are killed or wounded each year.

The solution has been a system of unmanned towers and vehicles. The Sentry-Tech pillbox towers were developed six years ago. These are unmanned, armored towers, about 5 meters/16 feet tall and two meters/six feet in diameter. At the top of the tower is an armored shelter that conceals a remotely controlled machine-gun. This remote control technology is similar to that used for many armored vehicles. The tower also contains vidcams, and other sensors. The remotely controlled machine-gun also has a vidcam that can see at night and the ability to enlarge and enhance the image in the crosshairs. The operators are at a central location (and are mostly female soldiers). If intruders are detected, the operator opens the top of the tower and brings out the machine-gun. The 12.7mm machine-gun has a range of 2,000 meters. Some towers use a 7.62mm machine-gun, with a range of 800 meters. Allowing for some overlap, 16-17 of these towers can cover the entire Gaza border. The South Korea towers use a 5.56mm machine-gun, with a max range of 900 meters (if you just want bullets hitting close enough to the intruders to scare them into turning around.).

In addition to the towers along the Gaza border, Israel also experimented with remotely controlled armed vehicles. These were to be used to reinforce the towers or patrol areas where there are blind spots. Four years ago, the AvantGuard vehicle was introduced. This one used sensors and software that enabled it to patrol along planned routes, and was capable of some cross country operation as well. The AvantGuard mounted a remote controlled gun turret equipped with a 7.62mm machine-gun. The vehicle had digital cameras facing every direction, and used pattern recognition to identify potential threats (like people sneaking around where they are not supposed to be), or obstacles on the road. The idea was that a pair of human operators could control a dozen or more AvantGuard vehicles. This system was particularly effective at night, because it had night vision and moved quietly. Weighing only 1.3 tons, the AvantGuard was protected against rifle fire and fragments from shells and roadside bombs. AvantGuard was adequate for guarding industrial parks, but not the vast stretches of Negev desert, along the border with Gaza. However, the developers persisted in responding to suggestions and complaints from the military, and AvantGuard vehicles are again being tested along the border. The new, heavier, version rolls along on bomb resistant tracks, and is equipped to detect (with ground penetrating radar) and survive roadside bombs. South Korea also showed interest in these mobile security vehicles, and may again try using them on the DMZ.

 

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trenchsol       7/16/2010 9:00:22 AM
I understand that system uses TV sensors to identify the target. I assume that those sensors are triggered by motion. Is it possible for target to move slow enough and prevent from being spotted ?
 
For example, primitive organisms, like frogs, rely on speed to detect prey. They won't react on objects moving too slow or too fast.
 
DG
 
 
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WarNerd       7/16/2010 5:50:49 PM

I understand that system uses TV sensors to identify the target. I assume that those sensors are triggered by motion. Is it possible for target to move slow enough and prevent from being spotted ?

For example, primitive organisms, like frogs, rely on speed to detect prey. They won't react on objects moving too slow or too fast.
Human vision works the same way, we just made use of the additional CPU power available to add layers of pattern recognition software on top of it.  The reflexive to flinch, dodge, or move away when being approached by fast moving objects was inherited from out proto-frog ancestor.  http://www.strategypage.com/CuteSoft_Client/CuteEditor/Images/emwink.gif" alt="" />
 
Basic video based motion sensing is relatively easy to implement, just take a snap shot of the same view at time T and another at time T+t and then subtract one from the other will leave a picture composed only of those objects that moved between the 2 shots.  The system is limited to detecting movement by the resolution of the camera at a particular range divided by the time interval between shots, so it works best at shorter ranges.  Then you need to sort out natural sources of apparent movement -- the effect of wind on vegetation, sun and shadows, etc., usually by reducing sensitivity of the system either in particulate sectors or overall.
 
So the simple answer is yes you can move slow enough, especially if you make use of terrain to avoid triggering motion detectors.
 
However, modern systems add pattern recognition software both as an additional detection system and to help screen out false alarms from the motion detector.  These systems can very hard to beat because moving slow to avoid triggering the motion detector just gives the pattern recognition software more time and input to find a match against in it's database.  And it gets even harder to beat if the area can be observed by multiple systems from different angles and the results are combined by a computer at the observation center.
 
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VelocityVector       7/16/2010 6:26:49 PM

Who wants to accept a bet that the NorKs will torment the operators of these systems?  Inflated condoms in a light weight sack driven by the wind, flares dangled from kites, old dogs loosed, catapulted debris etc.  With a little money, the Norks could even develop mylar balloons that approximate a man and barely creep along the ground dragging payload.  If nothing else 'twill pass the time and, perhaps, gauge detection and response times.  It's not like there is all that much to watch on NorK tv.

v^2

 
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trenchsol       7/17/2010 11:52:02 AM

However, modern systems add pattern recognition software both as an additional detection system and to help screen out false alarms from the motion detector.  These systems can very hard to beat because moving slow to avoid triggering the motion detector just gives the pattern recognition software more time and input to find a match against in it's database.  And it gets even harder to beat if the area can be observed by multiple systems from different angles and the results are combined by a computer at the observation center.

I didn't know that sentry guns use pattern recognition software. Pattern recognition made a lot of progress since the beginning, but I am under impression that adoption might have been faster than it actually is. It is quite demanding on computer resources. It think that it can recognize only the objects that are in the database. Perhaps a person could avoid detection by covering herself with a blanket or something  that would disguise her shape ?
 
I looked at Google, but found almost nothing on target identification. I was able to find that majority of systems use multiple different motion detectors. The software seems to be some kind of rule base expert system.
 
I guess that vendors are deliberately not willing to disclose the details, and learning about them by trial and error can cost you dearly.
 
DG

 
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WarNerd       7/17/2010 8:02:50 PM

I didn't know that sentry guns use pattern recognition software. Pattern recognition made a lot of progress since the beginning, but I am under impression that adoption might have been faster than it actually is. It is quite demanding on computer resources. It think that it can recognize only the objects that are in the database. Perhaps a person could avoid detection by covering herself with a blanket or something  that would disguise her shape ?
 
You are correct to some extent on all points.  What combining motion sensors with optical pattern recognitions does is 2 fold:
1)   It improves the rejection rate for false alarms from the motion sensor.  This makes the system operator more willing to pay attention to the indications that appear.  It is like 'the boy who cried wolf'.  If the rejection rate is high enough you can even turn up the sensitivity on the motion detector without causing a loss of operator attention/response.
 
2)   While you can disguise your appearance from the motion detector, and even hide your heat signature for a limited time, the longer you spend in the field of view the more time you have to make a mistake that will give you away and trigger an alarm that will bring the attention a more sophisticated analysis system (the human operator) into play.  But if you move faster to reduce the exposure time you are more likely to trigger the motion detector.
Like most good sensor combinations motion sensors and optical pattern recognition systems compliment each other to cover their weaknesses.  And pattern recognition systems are still primitive compared to humans.
 
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