Sentient rolls out global expansion as leading maritime sensor provider with growing portfolio of ViDAR applications

Published on: October 2022

Europe, Middle East and NATO navies seen as key growth areas for deployment of ViDAR maritime sensors showcased at EURONAVAL 2022, Paris

– Paris Le Bourget, France, [Sentient Vision Systems: Booth #G69 Defence Australia]: date: 12 October 2022 – Sentient Vision Systems’ strategy for further developing its leading position as a provider of Search and Rescue (SAR) and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions to integrators and crewed and uncrewed aircraft OEMs, is central to its expansion across NATO and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), reporting more than 10 separate proof of performance programme and evaluation initiatives currently in place with maritime defence organisations and agencies including European navies.

The Australian tech innovator and pioneer of the world’s first optical radar, ViDARTM (Visual Detection and Ranging) has selected EURONAVAL 2022 to announce its regional expansion from its new base in the Netherlands, headed by Maurice A. Raaijmakers, Sentient Vision Systems’ newly appointed Regional Director of Business Development, Europe & Africa.

“EURONAVAL provides us with the ideal platform to promote the roll out of the ViDAR maritime portfolio for a range of applications from NATO navies to coast guard, border patrol and search and rescue agencies. Lessons being learned in theatre in Ukraine demonstrate the need for real-time intelligence – and that demands AI-enabled surveillance technologies including full motion video capture to identify threats. ViDAR Surface along with our maritime portfolio provide commanders with a competitive advantage, where split second decisions spell the difference between mission success or failure,” explained Raaijmakers, a licensed commercial pilot, whose background includes senior roles in business development and sales for companies including CAE.

Developed by Sentient Vision Systems – headquartered in Melbourne, Australia – ViDAR has achieved an acknowledged global track record for its ability to detect small objects on the sea surface over a very wide area, in conditions up to Sea State 6. The ViDAR portfolio provides airborne solutions for both maritime and land ISR and SAR with a mix of airborne pod and integrated platform solutions, that incorporate a combination of AI-powered processors and EO/IR sensors, for fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and UAS. ViDAR enables airborne operators to cover a search area up to 300 times greater than an aircraft using traditional search methods.

The latest product introduction includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled ViDAR Surface – a next generation surface lookout providing a day and night autonomous ocean surface surveillance capability. “We have engaged with a number of defence organisations to develop their capabilities to detect, track, classify, and filter hundreds of objects autonomously.”

This cost-effective solution is available in a range of single to multi-sensor self-contained pods. ViDAR Surface is designed for real-time situational awareness and can detect ships, low profile boats, small boat swarms, persons in the water, and aircraft. It can be deployed with a range of shore-based and maritime surface platforms, either crewed or uncrewed.

According to Paul Harris, Global Director of Business Development, Sentient Vision Systems, “ViDAR is the maritime sensor of choice deployed by an increasing number of operators for their ISR and SAR operations. Our platform agnostic approach enables us to partner with integrators and OEMs world-wide to optimise to the user’s platform, reinforcing our global leadership with every successful roll-out of the ViDAR capability.”

“We are determined to remain the key driver of this technology and its various maritime and land applications. With new developments currently in trial ahead of customer deployment we will maintain our advantage in demanding blue water scenarios. As the creators of ViDAR, our own proprietary technology, and continuous 20+ year investment in R&D, we continue to lead this market dynamic segment,” adds Harris.

Key recent ViDAR milestones include:

  • Expansion of in-house manufacturing: Awarded a $2.1 million Australian government grant to establish a sovereign in-house manufacturing facility for its world-leading ViDAR pods. It will enable volume manufacture. “Winning this grant is an important step for Sentient Vision Systems,” said Sentient Vision Systems Managing Director and founder, Dr Paul Boxer. “We’ve been developing software-based AI surveillance systems for nearly two decades. We’ll soon be able to manufacture our own hardware in larger quantities while maintaining control over their quality and supply for critical surveillance and safety missions.”
  •  Installation on Dutch Caribbean territories Coast Guard:  ViDAR is soon to be installed on AW139 helicopters and Dash8 maritime patrol aircraft for SAR and ISR throughout the Dutch Caribbean territories. This will enable the Coast Guard to prosecute their operations much more effectively.
  • Engagement with US DOD FCT: Sentient Vision Systems is currently undergoing a Foreign Comparative Technology (FCT) evaluation with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide ViDAR Maritime systems for the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC). The ViDAR systems will be integrated into a medium-altitude long range uncrewed aerial system operated by the USMC for littoral ISR missions.
  • In action with Diamond Aircraft: In Q4 2021, the Diamond Aircraft Special Mission Aircraft Division undertook a series of demonstrations of a new ISR and SAR capability, based on its DA42 twin-engine light aircraft, the DA42MPP.  In a remarkable turn of events, during its demonstration program off the Belgian coast, this aircraft was tasked with an urgent live SAR mission over the North Sea to rescue 24 migrants who were adrift for 48 hours and could not be readily found by traditional search methods. The ViDAR VMS-5-equipped DA42MPP detected this small vessel in the middle of a large windfarm within minutes of tasking due the detection performance of the AI-powered optical technology.
  • Co-operation with Lockheed Martin MH-60R: Helicopter prime contractor and mission system integrator Lockheed Martin has integrated ViDAR in an MH-60R as a prototype fit to demonstrate this cutting-edge Australian capability. Lockheed Martin will work with Sentient to further explore the ViDAR capability. A successful trial could see this Australian ISR system integrated with the sensor suite on the MH-60R, which is also operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Paul Harris concluded: “Over 20 years of continuous innovation in AI and associated technologies has kept Sentient Vision Systems at the forefront of passive sensor solutions. AI-enabled maritime ViDAR products are already recognised by integrators and maritime commanders as best in breed – this pedigree will be expanded to ViDAR Surface for maritime platforms and ViDAR Land for airborne systems conducting land ISR missions. As a scalable and flexible technology ViDAR is readily adaptable and platform agnostic. Importantly as a passive day/night system ViDAR will become increasingly desirable for ISR and SAR missions in the contested and lethal battlespace”.

Photo: LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston/MOD