Mar.3, 2014

A high-tech radar scanner which automatically detects hidden bombs and 3D printed guns on people is set to revolutionize security at airports, shopping centres, stadia and transport hubs.

Ever since Cody Wilson's "Liberator" 3D printed gun was fired back in May 2013, there have been worries that the technology could be used by criminals and terrorists, especially because 3D printed plastic guns, like any kind of plastic guns, were potentially undetectable by traditional metal detectors.

One company based in the 'cyber valley' in Western England thinks it has a solution. Radio Physics Solutions is planning to produce and sell the first-ever scanner that can detect a concealed 3D printed gun in real-time, using radar waves and artificial intelligence.

The scanner was developed by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and helped along by funding from the Home Office and the Metropolitan Police. The developers has signed a commercial agreement with Radio Physics Solutions, which designs scanners and detectors for the security industry, to make the device commercially available.

The technology is designed to rapidly scan individuals in a crowd as they pass through public spaces, gates or entrances and instantly alert officials as soon as a threat is detected.

The scanner has an in-built computer that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse radio waves in real-time. It works at a distance of up to 25 metres. If a threat is detected, the beam of millimetre-waves are reflected back from the target, containing information about the target. Those waves are interpreted by a computer, which looks at the pattern of the returns and compares them against previous detections. The device will alert the operator on a full-colour display with a colour-coded cursor which highlights the suspected area.

"It's really a combination of a radar system and an AI-based computer system," lead researcher Nick Bowring explained. "It would have been unthinkable to make it just five years ago because the computing power and hardware were just not there."

The scanner has two prototypes: a handheld system for mobile use in the street and a larger, extended range static version suitable for checkpoints or vehicle mounting. Both scanners are portable and battery powered. They can be used covertly or overtly for checkpoints, mass transit points, shopping centres, stadia or other security sensitive areas, said researchers.

As to privacy issues, the developers say that it doesn't violate privacy because the device does not produce an image of the subject but only analyses radar signals reflected from the person.

Radio Physics Solutions is currently running a campaign on the equity crowdfunding platform Syndicate Room. The company set out to raise £600,000 on the platform, and it has just hit the 68% funding mark, with a total of £ 409,000 funding from 9 investors.

"Expect mass adoption by law enforcement agencies, we think there is real demand for this. It will be an additional but very important sensor that they will be adding into their armoury." said Bowring.

This month a tests conducted by the UK's National Ballistics Intelligence Service (NABIS) showed the scanners could accurately detect concealed non-metallic weapon and alert an operator 'in less than one second'.

"We have significant interest around the world, in particular from the US, UK and the Middle East, but we expect it to widen and deepen in the next six months." added Bowring.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Kevin wrote at 7/7/2015 7:25:57 AM:

This is fake right? If they made a radar that could scan a body from 25M and somehow detect a Lego gun, why not a real gun. That way police officers would know without a shadow of a doubt that there's a gun, thus ending that scenario for the most part. I hate crowd sourced projects that just take advantage of peoples fears and their willingnes to accept something working without asking how.

John Smith wrote at 3/5/2014 2:53:01 AM:

If someone is smart enough to make a 3d printed gun they sure as hell are smart enough to make a jammer for this device too.

1984 wrote at 3/4/2014 4:56:32 PM:

I hate when people like this have the knowledge to make software/hardware, all they do with that knowledge is make toys for the government.

j.pickens wrote at 3/4/2014 2:48:12 AM:

Sounds like it would have an amazingly high false alarm rate. Anything plastic with a cylindrical bore would have to set it off, or else it would be useless. Let's see, toothbrush holder? Large sharpee marker?

John wrote at 3/4/2014 2:38:19 AM:

Better check for prior art. Millitech/Millivision did this almost 20 years ago. Better hardware has decreased the scan time but not invalidated patents.

Jeff wrote at 3/3/2014 6:21:47 PM:

Interesting. This could get around some privacy concerns if it was interperted that geting a 'flag" from this system would constitute "probable cause" to conduct a search. In the US that would be a higher bar to reach (as we still have some protections against search) than in some other countries.

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