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Putting an end to laser attacks on airplanes

laser attacks

Since 2009 over 10,000 aircraft in the UK alone have been targeted by hand held laser attacks. The reckless targeting of aircraft poses a significant and growing threat to aviation safety. However it is often difficult to obtain evidence to secure a conviction and existing laser detection equipment is very expensive.

Scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have developed an innovative app that analyses laser dazzle events, making it quicker and easier for the police to arrest and prosecute offenders, deter the targeting of aircraft and allow pilots to take steps to prevent themselves from being dazzled.

The Laser Event Recorder app (LERapp) has been developed using an iPhone. It utilises the inbuilt camera, GPS and connectivity to record, analyse and communicate details of the incident. The app can be modified for use on Android phones and other platforms.

The benefits of the LERapp are that it:

  • provides a low cost solution (pilots can use their own phone)
  • is easy and intuitive to use
  • allows pilots to take steps to prevent them being dazzled
  • makes it easier for the police to identify arrest and prosecute offenders
  • deters people from using lasers irresponsibly

Dstl has signed an agreement with Profound Technologies to develop and market the LERapp.

The contract is the first to be signed using Dstl’s Easy Access IP contracting framework. This has been designed to help commercialise IP that is at a very early stage in its development or where there are significant financial risks and uncertainties. Easy Access IP allows companies to develop and refine the work at no cost. This allows Dstl to bring products to market that will benefit the economy and society that would otherwise not be available.

Commenting on today’s announcement the Dstl scientist who developed the LERapp, Craig Williamson, said:

The LERapp has the potential to significantly improve aviation safety. It is another example of the innovative and exciting work that Dstl is doing. Like much of our work, there are clear uses outside the military and security environments. The Easy Access IP scheme is a great opportunity to build new links with industry, and reflects our increasing openness to partnering and collaboration.

Randall Fitzgerald, President, Profound Technologies added:

Profound Technologies is excited about the opportunity to commercialize and exploit the technology developed by Dstl. The Easy Access IP program levels the playing field for smaller entities with fewer resources to compete and enter the marketplace. We believe that the technology is much needed and our goal will be to make it an industry standard from a safety standpoint.

The LER app is expected to be available in the summer of 2017.

LERapp could also be used in a wide range of non-aviation users –  including car drivers and police officers.

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Written by

The Furious Engineer is Matt Osborne - the founder of the company. Matt is a Chartered Engineer, a freelance guru and a writer, columnist and author.

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