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Game-changing geospatial technology transforming defence

Embracing the power of 3D tactical decision-making

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Founded in 2018 as a spin-out from CSIRO (Australia’s foremost national science and research organisation), Emesent is a world-leader in robotics and autonomous systems, artificial intelligence/machine learning, 3D mapping and data analytics. Emesent designed and manufactures the Hovermap LiDAR sensor which is lightweight (1.6kg) and versatile (doesn't require any configuration changes regardless of the deployment method).

Headquartered in Australia, with a global reach through partners and regional offices in the US, and the UK, Emesent has built a reputation for delivering insights through its versatile, simple to operate, and rapid tactical data capture solutions in the most challenging, contested, and GPS-denied environments.

Emesent works closely with users to provide decision support and improve workflows across operational planning and rehearsals, military survey, battle damage assessment, search and rescue, disaster relief, CBRNe, EOD, and sensitive site exploitation, helping them better understand their operating environments and enabling faster, and more informed decisions.

Geospatial technology, such as LiDAR scanners, has revolutionised decision-making by providing precise and accurate data which can be used to reconstruct the operational environment. LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing technology that uses laser beams to measure distances and create detailed 3D models of the environment. These models are called point clouds which are a collection of points in a 3D coordinate system representing the surface of an object, or the environment captured by a LiDAR scanner. Each point in the cloud can be measured and represents a specific location in space and is defined by its X, Y, and Z coordinates, along with additional attributes such as intensity. These point clouds can then be exported to generate additional artefacts such as contour or topographic maps, digital terrain models, digital surface models, 2D floorplans, 3D animated flythroughs, or digital twins. Alternatively, multiple scans over time of the same area can be merged to highlight changes in the environment – this is called change detection.

Operational planning and rehearsals

Operational planning and rehearsals

Tactical Applications of LiDAR

LiDAR has been used in military applications for decades but access to lightweight, portable, and user-friendly scanners is relatively new. In addition, the training it takes to utilise modern day scanners like Emesent Hovermap has become much more simplified allowing non-specialist warfighters the ability to employ LiDAR into their mission set. Historical uses of LiDAR in the military range from missile detection to large-scale topographical surveying but given the reduction of size and ease of use, tactical level units can utilise the Hovermap to gain an operational advantage.

Emesent also leverages the LiDAR sensor and couples this with the onboard compute to provide a means of sensing the environment in real time. When paired with the onboard artificial intelligence (AI) and simultaneous localisation & mapping (SLAM) algorithms, it provides an agnostic autonomous navigation capability for unmanned systems and allows them to operate in GPS-denied environments independent of a communications link.

Battle damage assessment

Battle damage assessment

Military Engineering Surveys – Conducting engineering surveys of terrain can be challenging and even more difficult during combat operations. Gaining quick access to usable data is essential for combat engineers. Examples include wet gap crossing or bridge inspection. If tasked with determining the feasibility of using a specific stretch of river to cross, combat engineers can use a drone with a Hovermap to conduct a fly-over of the area. Using a drone will also limit unnecessary exposure to personnel as well as provide a better understanding of the terrain and elevation. Within minutes combat engineers can analyse accurate and detailed 2D/3D maps of the crossing area. Hovermap will decrease surveying time and provide detailed insights such as vegetation, exposed rocks or debris, data previously unavailable to traditional surveying methods. Using Hovermap for a wet gap crossing will decrease planning time and increase operational efficiency.

Battle Damage Assessment – Another engineering use case where Hovermap can provide quick, accurate and detailed scans is conducting a battle damage assessment. Assessing and quantifying battle damage can be a challenge given every situation is different. Once the event is under control Hovermap could be used to scan the damage and then compare the scan to a previous model. Using change detection, these insights will give decision makers a comprehensive perspective of what areas are affected, and a more accurate sense of what’s required. Data from the scan could also be sent to engineers or technicians in garrison to help determine where the best location to conduct the repairs would be, saving time, money, and decreasing operational downtime.

Underground Operations – Conducting surveys of subterranean locations such as military facilities, tunnels, and caves can be a challenge due to the lack of GPS signal; however, a unique aspect of the Hovermap is the system does not rely on GPS to map a location. Using SLAM, the Hovermap is well suited for generating 2D/3D maps of locations without the use of GPS. In addition, when integrated into an unmanned platform such as a UAS or a UGV the autonomous capability, Hovermap can help the operator safely navigate unfamiliar areas underground without unnecessarily exposing personnel. Once mapped, decision makers would have a detailed 2D/3D representation of how the underground facility is laid out and help with future decision support.

Sensitive Battlefield Data – Hovermap can help tactical units with the collection of forensic data before leaving a target area. After a site is secure, tactical teams can map the area inside and out with Hovermap to collect details of the location for evidence or for future planning. Scanning an area is easy due to the versatility of the Hovermap and since LiDAR does not require light to create a map, tactical units can employ the Hovermap at night and still create high quality 2D/3D images.

Operational Planning and Rehearsals – As the battlefield becomes more complex, bringing down risk through rehearsals and planning will give decision makers and tactical teams more confidence in their abilities and greater success. With access to 3D data, operational planners will have a better understanding of the operational area beyond traditional imagery and topographical maps. Depending on the level of access to an area, Hovermap can be used to map out specific locations and give the tactical teams a virtual sense of what the area looks like. Teams will have a 3D understanding of, buildings, terrain, elevation, potential obstacles, line of sight visibility and other tactically advantageous data. With these new insights, tactical teams can conduct rehearsals through different scenarios providing them with a greater understanding leading to greater success.

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