The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded several contracts in support of advancing Methods for Explosive Detection at Standoff (MEDS). The vision of the program is to develop methods that permit rapid detection of bulk explosives embedded within an opaque medium with high water content.
Awards made under the effort from February-April 2013:
- Quasar Federal Systems $1,177,425.00
- BAE Systems $427,003 – Base Effort $828,559 for Option 1
- University of Arizona Base Effort = $1,503,774 Option 1 = $131,070
- Northeastern University CLIN 0001 – $467,755; CLIN 0002 – $238,381
- Stanford University $714,234 – Basic Effort; $186,678 – Option 1
- Niitek, Inc. $2,133,855 (added in June 2013)
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are persistent threats to military forces and the civilian population. Direct detection methods can be placed into two categories: trace detection and bulk detection. Trace detection methods include optical absorption and fluorescence, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and biosensors. Bulk detection methods include spectroscopic methods such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and nuclear quadrupole resonance (NQR); imaging using ionizing (X-Ray, γ−Ray); and electromagnetic (infrared (IR), terahertz (THz), millimeter (mm), and radar radiation techniques.
“Each of these technologies has their strengths and limitations in terms of sensitivity, speed, specificity, ability to penetrate various media, and health effects. Applicability of these methods can be highly dependent on packaging and operational conditions,” states the announcement. “Notwithstanding these limitations, there have been recent advances in a number of technologies that may be further developed, refined, and employed to address the goals of this program.”
Ultra wide band (UWB) imaging approaches, advances in thermoacoustic imaging and novel nonlinear acoustic methods are specifically mentioned as having potential, but the solicitation stresses that supported applications must be performed at standoff with no physical contact with the surface of the host medium.
Additionally, the use of ionizing radiation, other than possible employment of backscatter technology must be excluded because of health concerns to military personnel and civilians in proximity to the area.
Proposals are still being accepted under the effort until October 15, 2013. Further details are available under Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-13-01.