Home / Technology / AI & IT / Cambridge Pixel’s multi-sensor surveillance system is useful for naval, air traffic control,commercial shipping, security, surveillance and airborne radar applications.

Cambridge Pixel’s multi-sensor surveillance system is useful for naval, air traffic control,commercial shipping, security, surveillance and airborne radar applications.

Countering the growing threat posed by terrorists, smugglers, pirates, and political activists at military air and naval bases, airports, and ports requires sophisticated multisensor surveillance systems to ensure that incursions are rapidly detected and actioned.


Cambridge Pixel , a UK based developer of radar display and tracking subsystems, has unveiled a security and surveillance display application, called VSD, designed to improve target detection at airports, airbases and coastal facilities such as harbours and naval bases.


Cambridge Pixel, a developer of radar display, tracking and recording sub-systems, is supplying radar trackers, through local agent Aeroer, to the Second Institute of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAACSRI) for integration with their modern airport surface movement systems.


CAACSRI’s airport surface movement systems are currently being installed for upgrade and expansion projects in airports across south-west China, including at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, a major hub for the region. Cambridge Pixel’s SPx radar tracking software will provide enhanced target detection at the airports.


Engineers at CAACSRI needed a low cost, open, highly configurable software-based radar tracker for integration with its own airport surface movement systems. It was important that the tracker worked seamlessly with a range of radars and supported different tracking configurations in user-defined areas, allowing faster targets to be tracked on runways while minimising false alarms in other areas.


Mr Wang, Project Manager of CAACSRI, said: “We selected Cambridge Pixel’s radar tracker as it met all our requirements. It is clearly one of the best-in-class software-based radar data extractor and target trackers we have seen. It provides target track identification, heading and speed for targets within radar coverage and it are proven to work effectively in busy airports.”


We have deliberately designed our software ‘modules of expertise’ as discreet yet feature-rich components that are easy to integrate into any radar based surveillance solution. This is attractive in many markets, such as China, where one or more components can be adopted by the local solution provider as part of an in-country capability.”


Cambridge Pixel’s VSD Security Software Aids Threat Detection at Airports & Coastal Facilities

David Johnson, CEO of Cambridge Pixel, said: “VSD has been designed as an intuitive front end to a sophisticated multi-sensor surveillance system with key features including automatic radar slew-to-cue, video tracking, and transponder technology built-in.” The sensor-independent VSD software runs on a standard Windows PC and integrates and displays data from multiple radars and up to 16 daylight/thermal cameras.


It also incorporates radar/video tracking technology, track fusion as well as support for ship (AIS) and aircraft (ADS-B) transponders to filter out authorised targets and thereby speed threat detection.


Running on any embedded or industrial computing platform, VSD accepts primary video from one or more radar systems via an analog or network interface, initiating and maintaining tracks from these video streams and providing a fusion capability to link targets detected from multiple radars. It also accepts camera video from multiple sensors, using conventional analog video or H.264-compressed video over a network, and steers the cameras towards targets reported by the fusion process. Support for AIS/ADS-B transponder input and user-defined alarm zones provides for automatic elimination and reporting of potential threats.



Cambridge Pixel’s SPx radar tracker is fully parameterised, highly configurable and supports multi-hypothesis and multi-model tracking to improve tracking efficiency and reduce nuisance alarms. The tracker is designed to operate with many different radar types including those from Raytheon, Kelvin Hughes, Blighter Surveillance Systems, Saab Sensis, Furuno, JRC, Koden, Navtech Radar, Sperry and Terma.


David Johnson, CEO, Cambridge Pixel, said: “Our sophisticated radar tracker enhances target detection by processing the video data to identify genuine targets from clutter and thereby provide radar operators and air traffic controllers with confidence and improved situational awareness.


Fusion of ADS-B or Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast and marine vessels AIS or Automatic Identification System eliminates friendly targets


Cambridge Pixel’s field-proven radar tracking process is fully integrated within VSD, allowing target tracks to be extracted from each primary radar video input. VSD  includes a track fusion process, with the ability to combine or fuse primary radar tracks with secondary data from transponders fitted to commercial/military aircraft (ADS-B or Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) and marine vessels (AIS or Automatic Identification System) which is capable of combining the primary tracks from multiple radar sources and secondary data, such as ADS-B and AIS.


Since only cooperative (i.e. friendly) targets will generally provide secondary transponder data, VSD may automatically alert the operator to primary targets that do not have a corresponding secondary response.  The marine equivalent of ADS-B, Automatic Identification System (AIS), can be used when the protected site is, for example, a harbor or naval military base.


“This capability allows an operator to quickly differentiate between real threats and legitimate movements,” added David Johnson. “This is essential to avoid real incursions becoming ‘lost in the noise’, particularly the growing ‘backdoor’ threat posed by terrorists, smugglers and pirates at commercial airports and seaports as well as at military airbases and harbours.”


While primarily designed for air traffic control, increasing numbers of military aircraft will be ADS-B-capable in the future. Although such aircraft will normally permit the air crew to disable ADS-B transmission for security reasons, the presence of ADS-B can still be used to eliminate false positives when the surveillance system is equipped to receive ADS-B messages, since track reports can be correlated with ADS-B responses and “friendly” tracks eliminated.


Slew-to-cue capability to steer visual sensors towards the target


A key feature of the VSD application is its ability to control a camera to follow a selected radar track automatically. This capability is known as slew-to-cue and is further improved in VSD by the built-in video tracking function. Video tracking uses analysis of the camera video imagery to determine the target motion. Once a track has been designated within the radar display, video tracking can provide more accurate camera positioning for enhanced slew-to-cue.


“Video tracking is significantly more accurate than radar tracking, due to the higher update rate of at least 30fps and superior resolution of the sensors,” added David Johnson. “This enables VSD to predict and follow the target’s movement and maintain it in the video frame.”


VSD has been designed with touchscreen devices in mind and provides a clear display of the camera video in a main window, with picture-in-picture and thumbnails of all available video feeds for rapid selection. The radar portion of the display provides a geographic overview of the situation, showing all of the available radar videos, tracks and secondary data, overlaid on a clear tiled map. The application can also be used to implement remote unmanned-surveillance installations, supporting full target reporting and camera control interfaces to manned headquarters over a wide area link (WAN) or uplink.


Cambridge Pixel’s technology is used in naval, air traffic control, vessel traffic, commercial shipping, security, surveillance and airborne radar applications.


Small Target Tracking

Daylight” camera sensors (those operating in the normal visible spectrum) are typically complemented by thermal sensors, whose ability to view the heat signature of even very small objects such as individuals or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an invaluable asset in surveillance solutions. Thermal sensors are not just useful at night; they also have a clear advantage over daylight sensors where visibility is limited for other reasons such as fog or smoke. Modern uncooled microbolometer-based thermal cameras offer a good compromise between performance and cost, and with higher resolution now widely available (typically 640 by 480 pixels), detection of individuals at a range of more than 2 km (approximately 1.24 miles) is possible.


Cambridge Pixel has successfully demonstrated tracking of a small drone, using cameras provided by Silent Sentinel. During field trials, the video tracker within VSD was able to acquire and track a small drone from infrared (thermal) camera video. The tracking information was used to steer the camera automatically, keeping the target within the field-of-view as it manoeuvred.



Drones and other small targets pose an increasing risk to assets such as power stations, prisons, airports and other public buildings. The ability to detect and track these threats reliably is therefore paramount in ensuring the security of the asset. When coupled with the right combination of sensors, VSD may be used as part



British warships get radar upgrade


Britain’s Cambridge Pixel has supplied its SPx radar scan conversion system to BAE for use on British navy ships. The order for the system, which will be used for Type 45 destroyers and Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, is worth $721.3 million.


“We are pleased to be bringing advanced software capabilities to BAE Systems for this application. Our SPx software provides a flexible and expandable solution that can meet the complex requirements of the new generation naval platforms,” said David Johnson, managing director of Cambridge Pixel.


Cambridge Pixel said BAE Systems has integrated the software-based radar scan converter into its command and control client software, enabling radar video to be received from multiple radars on-board the ships into a server application and then distributed over Ethernet networks to command-and-control displays across the ship.


The server application is built from Cambridge Pixel’s HPx-100 radar acquisition cards and SPx software modules for compression and network interfacing.




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