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INVISIBLE RADAR GIVES AUSSIE TROOPS AN EDGE

24-04-2017
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Silentium Defence's passive radar antenna.

"But radar is already invisible," I hear you protest. 

Well, yes, technically. But powerful radar signals can be picked up by anyone in the surrounding area, including the enemy. 

New radar technology developed in Australia promises to change this, providing comprehensive surveillance of enemy troops without compromising safety.

South Australian startup Silentium Defence has developed a passive radar that uses pre-existing and non-sensor sources of radio frequency energy to map out an environment.

The technology gives militaries the ability to be aware of both active and silent objects using a sensor that is itself silent, which eliminates the chances of large radio signals being detected by enemy troops.

The passive radar also has the potential to help manage commercial transportation traffic at airfields and seaports.

Silentium Defence was co-founded by James Palmer, a former research scientist at the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group.

He said what made their technology unique was its agility and scalability.

“Active radars send out a large blast of radio energy and then listens for echoes from objects in the surrounding area,” Dr Palmer said.

“This is a problem in the defence context because it ends up as a beacon where potential adversaries are able to pick up the signal.

“What we have done with our passive radar is leverage the presence of background sources of broadcast radio and television instead, which means users go through without advertising their presence.”

He said this passive radar was more agnostic than other competitors because it was able to work across multiple energy sources at the same time.

Chief Technology Officer Simon Palumbo said the passive radar was cheaper than its counterpart and more efficient in built up urban environments where the spectrum was limited.

“It is really effective in congested environments and we have tested it in operationally relevant situations,” he said.

“So if you want to monitor the airspace around a large public event, for example, this is an unobtrusive way of doing it.”

Silentium Defence presented its product in Melbourne recently to mark the end of the CSIRO’s 12-week ON Accelerate Program, which pairs researchers with mentors to help them move their ideas from the lab, out to investors, and then to consumers.

Another successful South Australian pitch at the ON Accelerate Program was a lunchbox jelly snack made from seaweed and lobster shell, which was designed to help children boost their calcium levels.

Palmer won the inaugural Stanford Australia Foundation - CSIRO ON Accelerate Scholarship to attend a Stanford University program involving innovation and entrepreneurship through the Stanford Graduate School of Business in California.

The company is still looking for commercial partners to help drive the product internationally and plan to begin exporting its products within a year.

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