Dr. Vincent Tang, a program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, describes DARPA’s progress toward automated, always-on radiological detection systems designed to detect nuclear materials quickly over vast distances. He spoke at DARPA’s “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum” on Sept. 9, 2015.
The signature of the radiation can be analyzed and its likely source determined.
So, someone fresh from a nuclear medicine procedure at a hospital would be recognized but ignored by the system, while someone carrying illicit nuclear materials would set off alarm bells.
One inexpensive radiation detector
Three detectors working together
A network of detectors sending information to a cloud
It costs about $400 in volume — significantly cheaper than existing detectors used by public safety agencies — and provides a more accurate picture of any potential threats.
It sends a radiation reading to a companion smartphone over Bluetooth once every second.
The DARPA SIGMA program aims to revolutionize detection and deterrent capabilities for countering nuclear terrorism. The desire for significantly lower-cost and more capable radiation detectors is a common element of multiple detection concepts-of-operations (CONOPs). A key component of SIGMA thus involves developing novel approaches to achieve low-cost, high-efficiency, packaged radiation detectors with spectroscopic gamma and neutron sensing capability. The program will seek to leverage existing infrastructure to help enable these next-generation detectors and their deployment in order to demonstrate game-changing detection and deterrent systems.
If SIGMA is successful, the ubiquitous availability of cheaper and more efficient detectors will permit ample CONOPs to enhance the security of U.S. citizens and servicemembers around the world.