Post Project Summary of Main Results
Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project
This summary is a presentation of the activities and results of the KNOX project 768272: Cost advantageous and scalable drone alarm and protection system for urban contexts, countering malicious drone usage at prisons and in stadiums in an urban context.
The Danish SME MyDefence aimed to pursue a major market opportunity through the optimization and demonstration of an innovative, cost advantageous and scalable drone alarm and protection system (KNOX), to be used by security services providers and infrastructure owners – public and private sectors – in urban contexts.
Drones are quickly moving from being mainly a military technology to a mass market gadget. Whereas demand and applications for drones are fast-growing, the drone market also raises security and privacy concerns. Obviously, there are concerns about the possibility of using drones for illicit purposes and terrorist attacks, in which drones can be equipped with explosives, biological or chemical weapons.
Therefore, MyDefence is developing an innovative drone alarm and protection system – KNOX – able to detect, identify and locate civilian drones around secure areas, and to jam in a specific wireless frequency range without interfering with other mobile signals, and forcing a controlled drone landing.
The overall objective of the KNOX project was to optimize, fully demonstrate and setup commercialization of the KNOX counter-drone solution by:
- Deploying and testing the KNOX system (Optimization based on end-user output; effectiveness, price, portability, user-friendliness etc.).
- Testing and demonstrating the technical effectiveness of KNOX in real operational environments.
- Developing and defining Standard Operation Procedures.
- Analyzing needed approvals, certifications and establishment of documentation for certification.
- Preparing market entry, organizational capability and project planning.
- Studying the markets continuously and networking to prepare further market expansion.
The EU funded Horizon 2020 project “KNOX” has been a success for MD and the participants within it. It has provided unprecedented knowledge about state-of-the-art technologies and matched them with the ever-increasing demands for protection against malicious use of drones.
Major obstacles were known from the beginning and overcome, like the EU-wide regulations against jamming that proved to be a continuous burden to keep the pace in the project when specifically jamming had to be demonstrated and proven. But it was achieved in several occasions to find collaborative authoritative partners and get the approvals in place to test the technology, showing the successful use of jamming to stop the penetration of unwanted drones into e.g. prisons and police stations in major European cities. There is still opportunity for improvement about these regulations but through the project period, it has been allowed for police forces and prison services in the 3 participating countries Denmark, Finland and Israel to make use of jamming against drones under certain conditions. Our approach to jamming is now the most compact in the market and has proven to be very effective with minimum collateral damage, which is important for the use of jamming in civil communities.
Our competitiveness has been improved, and the KNOX technologies and products have been heavily improved throughout the project to meet the customer needs and create the needed situational awareness about drone activities in these areas. Direction finding capabilities have been added to our RF sensors to give the users the ability to pinpoint the pilot and point cameras towards to drone for visual identification of the threat and possible jamming. Our radar has evolved, and the classification of drones is now significantly improved resulting in a low false alarm rate. Our command and control system have been expanded to cover multiple sites and supports a wide array of infrastructures. Tests reported on in this project shows, that the drone-detection-range approaches that of the ideal range of 1 km for both sensors. Furthermore, the jamming tests show that a jamming-ratio of 50-75% is achieved with the current implementation. Today the system is fully active and incorporated into the daily operations in two prisons. There will be continuous improvements to be made to the technologies going forward as the threat continues to evolve into more sophisticated methods of smuggling contraband into prisons, threatening stadium security or harassing air traffic safety in airports.
New anti-drone SOP for stadiums, prisons and police stations have been developed and trained through the month-long periods, where the systems have been in operational use and provided invaluable user feedback.
During the project period in the past 2 years MD have been in contact with several policy makers, public and private security service providers and critical infrastructure owners to gain insight into and align with their security visions and daily operations requirements. At the current moment the need is there to provide local security, but within the coming few years MD predicts that the demand for nation-wide UAS/C-UAS infrastructures will emerge. In this scenario, our KNOX-related efforts have been entrepreneurial in nature and will set new standards as key components in the coming infrastructure of equipment and data.
In summary, through the innovation project KNOX, MyDefence managed to demonstrate the full KNOX concept including the technological and tactical effectiveness. The result became a collection of showcases/use-cases based on the demonstration activities and a finalized full KNOX solution, providing the basis for the sales to security services providers.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved
During the first year of the project, MyDefence set up all the administrative processes for project management and coordination. A time management system, a new financial system, regular financial controlling as well as new company policies was implemented. MyDefence also began implementing a new storage management facility.
Due to a tender in the UK, our British partners unfortunately had to leave the project. This meant that a lot of effort was put into finding new partners simultaneously with overcoming the obstacle of getting an approval to test jamming in Denmark. This proved excessively difficult but luckily in the search for new partners, we found new partners in Finland and Israel, where jamming was possible. As of 2019 in Denmark an approval has not yet been issued, except for a small jamming test at a military facility in Q3, 2018.
Our production is not a linear process, where a unit is developed, a prototype made and then due to design changes based on technical documentation, a final product produced. A user innovation approach was taken from the beginning of the project, meaning, that when customers requested a lot of changes to the products, MyDefence began an iterative process testing, developing and re-designing the products to meet customer needs. Prior to the project this has been the innovation method of MyDefence, so it was only natural to continue to work with our test partners and customers in this way. However, as a result the project was delayed.
MyDefence have tested the system with several partners, and we have improved significantly on early drone detection and jamming efficiency. We have improved the ease of integration by splitting Iris into Iris (front-end) and Argos (back-end). The scalability of the KNOX system is proved and documented as we have tested the system in various prisons, mounted on military vehicles, a stadium in Denmark, at an airport in Denmark, at a military facility in Denmark and at a police station in Israel, plus numerous other sites.
MyDefence have developed and defined a set of SOPs, which in corporation with each individual test partner have been customized, so the procedures fit in with the partners other OPs. MyDefence has provided training in the system as well as support in developing site-specific procedures.
MyDefence have analyzed the needs for approvals. For the relevant certifications, documentation has been established and the products, which were ready for tests, have gone through them.
In Q1, 2019 MyDefence got new investors and a new Board of Directors. As a result, MyDefence during spring and summer of 2019 went through an extensive organizational change and complete renewal of its strategy. This means, that the business model has changed and has become more focused on critical infrastructure like prisons and airports on the civil side. Present events at Gatwick airport etc. have paved the way (market entry) into this segment.
All the testing at different international prisons have spread the word about MyDefence and our capabilities to provide a cost effective and scalable C-UAV protection system KNOX for this segment. We are slowly upgrading our organization and as a result of the project have hired a supply chain manager and is planning to apply for a phase 3 project.
MyDefence have completed a new market research. The market constantly changes, and opportunities arise as incidents unfortunately happen throughout the world. Gatwick airport, Heathrow airport, the drone attack on the Venezuelan president and latest the bombing of Aramco, the world’s largest oil company in Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the project we have been able to build an extensive network of channel partners and we have been able to engage with current customers and future potential customers and as such prepare ourselves for a further market expansion.
As a result of the project, MyDefence have written a use-case document, presenting two use cases about prisons. MyDefence have also written a white-paper describing C-UAS protection at airports.
The vast number of potential segments and customers worldwide is currently forcing us to focus on selected segments and to a certain extent, also technology. We have identified the value chain of the UAS business in the years to come and predicted the need for a C-UAS control infrastructure to support the authorities, critical infrastructure and society against malicious use of drones.
Progress beyond the state of the art, expected results until the end of the project and potential impacts
The KNOX project has been the main driver for MyDefence to keep the stringent focus on continued development of our capabilities in the past 2 years, following the trends in the market, keeping up with our competitors and exceeding them where possible. Initially the problem scope was limited to prisons and stadiums. This has expanded to encompass critical infrastructure in general, UAV-borne and vehicle applications – primarily in government and military sectors.
The availability of drones has increased dramatically while the costs has plummeted, providing an efficient and cheap tool for criminal elements. Thus, the KNOX project aims to demonstrate and provide a technical solution to mitigate the malicious use of drones. To solve this problem, MyDefence have developed sensors and effectors and integrated these into a user-friendly GUI. The sensors consist of distributed RF-sensors and a radar, respectively named Watchdog and Eagle. The effector is a distributed RF-jammer named Dobermann.
Our approach to jamming is the most compact in the market and has proven to be very effective with minimum collateral damage, which is important for the use of jamming in civil communities and our RF sensors have been significantly upgraded to include direction finding and the false alarm rate has been reduced to an absolute minimum. The usage inside urban areas with a condensed RF noise environment has been improved significantly.
Our Radar is the lowest cost on the market and as part of the total system a very important component. The drone classification has improved significantly resulting in a low false alarm rate with minimal user interaction. Without the radar we would not have been able to compete in the Danish prison tender.
Our C2-system has gone from being local and site-specific to be a scalable multi-site system capable of sharing data between different sites with the aim of going towards a larger infrastructure.
Our system in general has proven to be very flexible and the scalability is unseen in the market, which makes it very cost effective.
Our suppliers, especially local electronic manufacturer, has been instrumental for our rapid prototyping and changes needed for the continued product development.
Our brand awareness has risen significantly resulting in a vast number of new contacts and our sales efforts has also resulted in concrete customers related to prisons, police forces and public safety. We are in the last part of a tender for 4 Danish prison installations with only one competitor left and this would have been less likely if we had not had the KNOX project to pave the way for the tender and our participation.
MyDefence have created output (knowledge, technology, design, SOPs) from the project, which is contributing to a state-of-the-art commercially available anti-drone solution. The output generated from the project is already made available to the key stakeholder groups (users) and other relevant groups mentioned.
MyDefence have successfully implemented the KNOX project and effectively contributed to strengthening the security against drones used for hostile purposes. Furthermore, the KNOX system is ready for contributing to protecting critical infrastructures, as well as private properties and mobile soft targets. MyDefence is able, with the KNOX system, to meet the market need for a commercially available anti-drone solution capable of early detecting the presence of any drone within a no-fly zone or defensive perimeter, jamming its activity without interfering with other mobile signals and forcing the drone to a safe landing.
MyDefence is becoming one of the strongest competitive players in the international anti-drone security systems industry and is as such setting the foundation for creating a new industry of KNOX solutions in Europe and grow related sub-suppliers. Since the potential of the KNOX is scalable worldwide and is already installed internationally and thereby gaining recognition, this will position Europe as a leader within the industry.
Overall, MyDefence is, due to the KNOX project, contributing to improving the economics of the security sector, thereby contributing to the sector’s competitiveness and creating jobs in Europe.
MyDefence is here today as a thanks to the KNOX project. The opportunities granted to us with the H2020 project from EU have had a massive impact, not only on the products but also on the organization. MyDefence have grown with the project, perhaps not in number of employees, but certainly in project management maturity and investors. MyDefence is confident, that the outcome of the project in terms of the new sales and exploitation strategy will take MyDefence to new heights within the European Defense industry and keep MyDefence on the top of the list of preferred partners, when an investment decision regarding C-UAS is made.