In the last two decades, research by McQ Inc. and others has led to substantial advances in the performance of
unattended ground sensor (UGS) systems. These advancements include: extremely long battery life; small, robust
packaging; high performance detection and classification algorithms; multimodal, multispectral sensors; long range
communications; air droppable delivery; fully integrated sensor management; multi-sensor situational awareness and
data fusion; advanced video detection and optical sensor development; and others. This research has demonstrated that
there is a great deal that existing technology can do to solve users' intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR)
requirements using UGS sensors. However, in spite of these advances, UGS systems have not enjoyed widespread use in
either DoD, DHS or with law enforcement agencies (LEA). Although requirements differ from agency to agency and
application to application, the primary factor that limits more widespread use of UGS systems is cost. Cost determines
how many sensors an agency can buy and how they are used operationally. Only when sensors cost $100 or less will
they be considered truly disposable. The focus of this paper is to present the technical considerations and a roadmap for
producing truly low cost UGS sensors. Achieving this goal will then create within the DoD, DHS, LEA and other
communities' requirements for UGS systems intended for a wide variety of uses that were never seriously considered
previously because of cost. The implications are significant and will lead to an explosion in the number of UGS systems
made and used on an annual basis.
Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS) are valuable tools for the U.S. military and border patrol, however, their utility is
often limited due to their cost, size, and weight. Recently specific advances in micro power electronics, transducers,
packaging, and signal processing techniques have enabled the development of a small, lightweight, and affordable UGS.
Originally intended for small unit clearing/monitoring operations, a sensor has evolved to achieve detection
performance comparable to state-of-the-art UGS. To meet a broader mission capability, battery life and detection
capabilities have been extended and affordable networked cameras and repeaters have been developed. This paper will
provide an overview of the key enabling technologies for affordable UGS, provide an overview and enhancements of
this affordable UGS system, and review results of system testing.
Wireless mesh networked (WMN) radios have been applied to unattended ground sensor (UGS) applications for a
number of years. However, adapting commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) WMN protocols and hardware for UGS
applications has not yielded the desired performance because of compromises inherent to these existing radios. As a
leading provider of UGS systems, McQ Inc. has been developing custom WMN protocols and radio hardware that are
adapted specifically for the unique scenarios of the UGS situation. This paper presents the McQ designs, the tradeoffs
made in developing the designs, and test and performance results.
McQ has developed a miniaturized, programmable, ruggedized data collector intended for use in weapon testing or data
collection exercises that impose severe stresses on devices under test. The recorder is designed to survive these stresses
which include acceleration and shock levels up to 100,000 G. The collector acquires and stores up to four channels of
signal data to nonvolatile memory for later retrieval by a user. It is small (< 7 in3), light weight (< 1 lb), and can operate
from various battery chemistries. A built-in menuing system, accessible via a USB interface, allows the user to configure
parameters of the recorder operation, such as channel gain, filtering, and signal offsets, and also to retrieve recorded data
for analysis. An overview of the collector, its features, performance, and potential uses, is presented.
Acoustic signals are a principal detection modality for unattended sensor systems. However, the performance of these
systems is frequently suboptimal due to insufficient dynamic range in small systems or excess power consumption in
larger systems. This paper discusses an approach to developing an unattended ground sensor (UGS) system that has the
best features of both worlds. This system, developed by McQ Inc., has exceptional dynamic range (> 100 dB) while
operating at power levels of 1.5-5 watts. The system also has a user definable signal parameter library and automated
detection methodology that will be described.
McQ has developed and delivered numerous unattended ground sensor (UGS) systems for a variety of applications.
The systems provide flexible, wireless communications and numerous options for enabling the user to configure the
system for a specific mission. This flexibility is a two-edged sword as it provides both the intended user with the
functionality they desire, but also a set of vulnerabilities if a malicious user (e.g. political enemy or competitor) would
attempt to disable or reverse engineer the system. McQ has developed various layers of security to address: secure
program and data storage on off-chip non-volatile memory; secure access to JTAG on COTS processors and DSPs
typically incorporated in the design of embedded systems used for remote sensors; authentication of sensors nodes,
relays, and portable user interfaces used in the field that may be compromised; and the management of keys and other
security-related data that is required to be stored and maintained in a distributed system. The associated challenges with
securing embedded systems typically found in UGS will be described, as well as an overview of the solution that was
developed and incorporated into McQ's systems to mitigate the vulnerabilities.
During the past five years McQ has been actively pursuing integrating and applying wireless mesh network radios as a
communications solution for unattended ground sensor (UGS) systems. This effort has been rewarded with limited
levels of success and has ultimately resulted in a corporate position regarding the use of mesh network radios for UGS
systems. A discussion into the background of the effort, the challenges of implementing commercial off-the-shelf
(COTS) mesh radios with UGSs, the tradeoffs involved, and an overview of the future direction is presented.
McQ has developed a family of low cost unattended ground sensors using conventional technology and manufacturing techniques. Intended for small unit operations in an urban environment, these are tactically useful sensors that can be manufactured in large quantities (1M-10M units/year) for a projected production cost of less than $100 each. Secondary characteristics are small size (98 cm3), light weight (85 gm), moderate lifetime (40 hrs), and moderate communications ranges (100m). An overview of the DSS system: its features, performance, and scenarios for use in urban warfare, is presented.
McQ has produced a family of small (98 cm3), inexpensive ($100), unattended ground sensors well suited for urban environments. As a result, a broad range of data has been collected in urban settings. This paper discusses human signatures in urban environments using low cost seismic, infrared, acoustic, and magnetic transducers. Transducer performance and the effects of orientation, building construction, and environmental noise will be focused on. Detection methods used to exploit signatures and resulting performance statistics will also be discussed.
McQ has developed a family of low cost unattended ground sensors that utilize self-configured, mesh network communications for wireless sensing. Intended for use in an urban environment, the area monitored by the sensor system poses a communication challenge. A discussion into the sensor's communication performance and how it affects sensor installation and the operation of the system once deployed is presented.
Protection of the Nation's borders in the post-911 era has taken on increased importance while it has become more technically challenging due to dramatic increases in the number of illegal aliens attempting unauthorized border crossings. Unattended ground sensors, used in large numbers, have been a key element of the US Border Patrol's inventory of sensing systems that are deployed along the borders to alert agents to intrusions. The legacy sensors are based upon decades old technology and limited in their ability to be networked and integrated into a cohesive web that can provide timely information that can be readily integrated into the Border Patrol and DHS information networks. This paper presents an introduction to a system developed by McQ for border monitoring and intrusion detection that provides full networked capability, from the sensor to the display. The paper also includes results of testing and integration with DHS information systems. The significance of Internet protocol based information generation at the sensor level and real time distribution of data is emphasized, including resource and infrastructure sharing and scalability to nationwide scope will also be discussed.
This paper will review the work being performed at McQ on the development of a family of truly low cost unattended ground sensor systems using conventional technology and manufacturing techniques. The goal of this work is to produce tactically useable sensors that can be manufactured in large quantities (1-10M units/year) for $10 each. Secondary goals are small size (10-50 cm^3), lightweight (15-60gm), moderate lifetimes (48-72hrs) and moderate communications ranges (10-1000m). Our research indicates that sensors meeting these performance metrics can be manufactured today using conventional manufacturing techniques. The paper will review the basic system architecture proposed, projected sensor performance and projected manufacturing costs.