Createc’s SLATE Sensor Successfully Demonstrated As Part Of The SAPIENT Programme.

Createc have successfully demonstrated our innovative Scanning Laser Automatic Threat Extraction (SLATE) sensor as part of DSTL’s SAPIENT programme for autonomous connected sensors. The demonstration, which took place in June of this year, highlighted the effectiveness of our SLATE sensor as a surveillance and security tool, when used in conjunction with other sensors controlled by a decision making module.

The SAPIENT Programme

The Sensing for Asset Protection with Integrated Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) is a system of autonomous sensors led by a decision making management module. The SAPIENT system has been designed in recognition of the difficulties encountered when attempting to enforce a perimeter or protect an asset using more traditional methods of surveillance. The use of cameras and other sensors generates a significant volume of data that then needs to be analysed by human operators in order for decisions to be taken. Since humans have a limited capacity for processing information, this can lead to a failure in detecting anomalies or decisions taken in error. SAPIENT seeks to address this by combining a number of sensors, with each one acting autonomously and making decisions about what to analyse further. These sensors process their data and relay information about any anomalies or threats to a central module that in turn, analyses the data it receives from all of the sensors to determine the nature of the anomaly or threat and determine the action that needs to be taken. The modular design of SAPIENT enables the user to pick and choose sensors that are relevant to the needs of that user, and furthermore, develop additional sensors that can feed into the central module if required.

Project Funding and Partners

The project was initially funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Innovate UK, in recognition that the system would have uses for both the military and civilian security markets. Alongside Createc, a number of businesses and organisations have produced sensors for the SAPIENT system. These are:

  • AptCore.
  • The University Of Durham.
  • QinetiQ.
  • Cubica Technology.

Other organisations with an interest in the security and defence sectors are now being encouraged to get involved in developing the system further.

Createc’s SLATE Sensor

Our Scanning Laser Automatic Threat Extraction (SLATE) sensor has been designed to provide precision location tracking. Using a Scanning Laser Rangefinder (SLR), SLATE can produce either a two-dimensional cross-section or a three-dimensional model of the target area. Within this data set, objects can be identified and located precisely. SLATE can pinpoint a target’s location to within 1 centimetre, as well as provide information about the size and shape of a target, and how fast that target is moving. Furthermore, the sensor is aware of its environment and periodically checks for changes. For example, it could identify a suspect package left behind in a busy public area. As SLATE uses Infra-red laser technology rather than images from cameras, it is not affected by camouflage or low light levels.

SLATE has been designed to work within the SAPIENT system, and provides a complimentary view of the world to the other sensors within the system. In June 2016, researchers from Createc spent a week at QinetiQ’s Thruckmorton Trials and Industrial Site demonstrating the effectiveness of SLATE within the SAPIENT system. The demonstration primarily focused on the identification of vehicles, such as whether an object was a car, truck, or motorbike. It also looked at behavioural changes of vehicles, such as one making a sudden u-turn.

We were incredibly pleased with the outcome of the demonstration, as SLATE was proven to be a highly capable surveillance tool as part of SAPIENT. This was despite working during one of the hottest weeks of the year, with temperatures regularly exceeding 25 degrees centigrade.

Dr David Clark, Research Associate and project lead for SLATE, said, “I am extremely happy with how the recent demonstration went. Our project partners come from a range of backgrounds, including a major national company, a university, and small to medium enterprises. Despite this, the team worked well together, overcoming any challenges that we were presented with. Following the demonstration we received very positive feedback from a number of the attendees, including the main customer.”

Future Developments

Following the successful demonstration, the SAPIENT project consortium are now looking at how SAPIENT can be used in a number of civilian and military applications. Furthermore, at Createc, we are using the knowledge gained from this project to develop other areas of tracking and dynamic environment monitoring.

We are also pleased to announce that we will be presenting our SLATE sensor at the SPIE Security and Defence conference, taking place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, 26th – 28th September 2016, as part of the Networks Of Autonomous Sensors session (conference reference 9995-28). If you would like more information about SLATE, please contact