A new, high tech radar scanner could help make airports and secure facilities even safer with its ability to ferret out nearly undetectable 3D printed weapons.
Developed by Manchester Metropolitan University with funding from the UK’s Home Office and Metropolitan Police, the new device was built to scan people as they mill through crowded public spaces and sound the alarm if any threats are detected.
Using sophisticated signal processing the scanner sends a beam of radio waves into a crowd where they’re reflected back if a 3D printed weapon is detected. Once returning waves reach the origin device an onboard computer attempts to classify the signature of the signal using artificial intelligence algorithms. If a positive printed weapon match is made the device alerts a nearby operator who’ll be informed of the area in which a weapon was discovered.
"It's really a combination of a radar system and an AI-based computer system," MMU’s 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."
In tests being conducted at the UK's National Ballistics Intelligence Service Labs the new radar system has operated admirably, detecting non-metallic weapons as far away as 25 meters and alerting authorities within a second.
Currently the radar scanners’ commercial partner, Radio Physics Solution, is trying to drum up support for the tech by means of an equity crowdfunding campaign insisting that there is a huge demand for this technology. "[We] expect mass adoption by law enforcement agencies, [and] think there is real demand for this. It will be an additional but very important sensor that they will be adding into their armory," said Bowring.
Since the development of Defense Distributed’s “Liberator” gun, many politicians and security expectshave worried that a proliferation of plastic weapons could severely hamper authorities’ abilities to make airports and public spaces secure. While its likely that Radio Physics Solutions’ new system can help security personnel detect weapons before they can do any harm, I wonder how many bad guys were out there plotting to use 3D printed weapons or whether that notion will hamper this technology’s spread? Regardless, the cat and mouse game of security has taken yet another turn, and this time the good guys have the advantage.