BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold visited Exensor at it’s UK Basingstoke HQ to gain an update on current programmes and technologies since our last visit in 2017.
Extensor is an international leader in sensor and protection networks for sensitive areas and infrastructures. The company is part of Bertin Technologies, which itself is a subsidiary of CNIM Group. As for Bertin Technologies, it relies on its long history of innovation to develop, produce and market innovative systems and equipment worldwide.
“What has changed since our last visit?” The Editor asked Phil Ashworth.
“In this post-Brexit era, the key message we are delivering for DSEI is that Exensor is now a Technology Hub in the United-Kingdom, not only for Bertin but also for CNIM Group as a whole. This has broadened and strengthened our portfolio of offerings from advanced camera and border systems through waste disposal to landing craft.”
“So, what is Brexit to you – a threat or an opportunity?
“Based in the UK, partnered with our Swedish counterparts and with a French parent company, we truly are a modern-day blended family. As a forward-looking European company, we have been working with our continental friends from the very outset and we foresee no change in this harmonious partnership, whatever the UK’s future relationship with the European Union may be. We will also maintain our ongoing relationships outside of Europe, the potential being that these will become stronger as trade agreements strengthen.”
“Given Exensor’s expertise in advanced border solutions has the current Brexit and Irish Border Backstop debate benefited the company?”
“The Backstop debate has concentrated the minds of politicians and government alike of the benefits of using advanced technology rather than hard border solutions for Northern Ireland and other borders. However, having said that, we are some way away from obtaining an order for our solutions. We have had considerable interest in our systems, many of which are already in use, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region. We will expand our portfolio of products and technologies to offer turnkey surveillance solutions to our customers linking remote sensors to long-range cameras, CBRN and border protection systems. We have designed and built our solutions around a flexible platform (Flexnet) to enable rapid development and integration of the very latest technologies to ensure we provide reliable and proven products to meet the demands of the modern soldier. The transaction enables us to continue our expansion in a growing market from a position of real strength, which will benefit our customers and employees alike.”
Exensor Technology Ltd Background
“What is the strength of the new Technology Hub in the UK over your competitors?”
“To meet new customer requirements, we have developed our own proprietary C2 solution offering a comprehensive and scalable command and control platform for the Flexnet system. The user-friendly UMRAwin software has been designed to fit both Windows and Android platforms. In its smallest form, a Flexnet system is controlled via a handheld Android device (UMRA Portable) communicating with the deployed sensors. In larger system configurations, the UMRAwin software is installed on ruggedized computers/laptops as well as handheld Tablets with integrated radio solutions. Handheld devices can be combined with fixed C2 stations allowing both stationary operators and mobile patrolling guards to monitor and operate the system. But most importantly, we combine our products with our parent company in France, Bertin Technologies. We have already adapted systems, such as CamSight LP which relies on Bertin Technologies’ optronics expertise but is also based on the Flexnet design for an Exensor customer. We have broadened our in-house sensor suite by including the CBRN and optronics expertise of our parent company, and also by building in Exensor’s protection capabilities to CNIM’s bridging systems.” Phil Ashworth said.
“What are your goals for the future?”
“To provide unprecedented technological solutions for real problems that our clients face every day. It is just one of the reasons why I am incredibly proud of Exensor and to be part of Bertin/CNIM Group. Reinvesting, reinventing and removing boundaries have always been, and will always be, at our heart. Taking networked communications into unexplored realms is vital to what we do, but at our core are our clients. The problems they are facing, how we can use technological advances to provide solutions and what promises we can make to benefit the whole world will always be our Mission Possible!”
A ‘networked unattended ground sensor system’ consists of a suite of intelligent miniaturised sensors and cameras, known as ‘Flexnet’, placed strategically along the border. The cleverly hidden devices provide 360-degree monitoring, 24/7, 365 days per year, using their ‘seismic acoustic’ and passive infrared capabilities (PIR – light radiating from objects in its field of view). In other words, the autonomous sensors detect motion or infrared within the allotted area, decipher who or what is causing the motion and raise awareness when a threat is identified.
Detecting and recognising the seismic, acoustic or PIR ‘fingerprint’ of a person, terrestrial vehicle or aircraft, whether within a line of vision or through solid barriers such as walls and vegetation, makes Flexnet far more proficient at surveillance than a person or CCTV camera. And when there is a threat, no person is put at risk through patrolling a dangerous area.
Flexnet is a fully integrated, scalable sensor platform with an open interface that allows for easy integration of external sensors. The UMRAWin map-based Command and Control (C2) software has been developed in close cooperation with Exensor’s customers to provide an intuitive, easy to operate interface between man and machine. The API software enables integration of other external sensors (UGS, cameras, radars, effectors) into the Flexnet platform, such as BMS platforms for example.
PeriSight is a compact modular optronic system composed of a network of imaging sensor modules which offers thermal, smart fusion and colour low light viewing modes. To be positioned on a vehicle, this lightweight, ruggedized system comprises different fields of view to reduce vulnerability by enabling a valuable night and day 360° surveillance. Fields of view are especially adapted to the final application: offering considerable support, its state-of-the-art colour imaging sensor is able to take pictures in extremely low light condition (~10 mlx) whereas its high-resolution thermal sensor is capable of detecting human presence in any night conditions (up to night 5). Compliant with military standards, PeriSight thus helps to increase Land Situation Awareness (LSA), as well as the Driver’s Vision Enhancement (DVE), even in harsh driving conditions.
Perfectly compatible with all types of military vehicle (including armoured), PeriSight can also be placed on top of a building to improve the surveillance of strategic locations. Wired to a single electronic housing – VigiSight – PeriSight allows image stabilization, automatic detection and target tracking.
FusionSight is a world-first digital night and day vision enhancer providing smart fusion for threat and target accurate detection. This all-in-one device combines three viewing modes – colour low light, thermal and smart fusion. Especially adapted to military requirements, this 990-kg reliable device drastically improves the detections of threat and targets for quick or long-lasting surveillance missions. Offering considerable support, either on the field or Police and Homeland Security missions, this state-of-the-art colour imaging sensor is able to take pictures in extremely low light condition (~10 mlx) whereas its high-resolution thermal sensor is capable of detecting human presence in any night conditions. (up to night 5) In addition, FusionSight’s embedded real-time image processing automatically selects the key information to enhance from each sensor. It enables picture snapshots as well as live streaming on multiple devices for long-lasting operations. Easy-to-use, it is thus an efficient and reliable device for the detection of camouflaged enemies or casualties and missing persons under wreckage, during search and rescue missions.
CamSight is a family of lightweight, compact core cameras for complex optronic systems. Reliable, responsive and easy-to-use, the CamSight modules are available in three versions: CamSight IR, for infrared vision, CamSight LP, infrared & low power, and CamSight LL including a colour visible low light sensor. thermal, thermal low power, and low light level. Designed for vehicle manufacturers and integrators, they can be adapted to any system: perimeter surveillance of land and naval vehicles, driver vision of armoured vehicles, surveillance of sensitive sites and on-board observation on UAV.
Very low consuming (less than 1 Watt) and ultra-compact, CamSight LP can be integrated into complex optronic systems, even in harsh environments. The camera, equipped with the latest LYNRED infrared sensor, comes with an uncooled system and a shutterless technology that enable real time freeze free image delivery. Thanks to its design and high performances, the CamSight LP fulfils any surveillance applications and night & day infantry missions, even in severe conditions. It can also be installed in sensors (UGS) as well as autonomous vehicles (UAV, UGV). On the other hand, CamSight LL is a colour low light sensor able to provide coloured pictures in extremely low light condition (~10 mlx) and black/white pictures from down to very low light conditions (down to 3 mxl – night level 3). It has been developed in partnership with PHOTONIS. Finally, the CamSight IR version offers uncooled thermal imaging technology, without shutter (for a permanence of observation in infrared vision). This Long Wave InfraRed (LWIR) sensor includes a high-resolution microbolometer with uncooled, shutterless technologies, which means that only one calibration of the camera at the factory is required, with no periodic control.
Bertin Technologies supplies proprietary systems and instrumentation for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection and identification dedicated to armed forces and civil security bodies, such as rapid intervention teams, as well as public health and emergency services. Its comprehensive portfolio contains ruggedized instruments especially designed for harsh and constraints environments:
Chemical – Second Sight MS, a passive, long range chemical and toxic gas clouds detector;
Biological – high performance solutions for air sampling and analysis to detect biological threats and airborne pathogens such as Biotoxis, an all-in-one qPCR kit, and the Coriolis RECON, a bio-air sampler;
Radiological & Nuclear – a full range of reliable and high-performance products such as radiation portal monitors, environmental radiation monitoring systems, as well as dose rates and survey meters.
About Exensor Technology Ltd
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From headquarters in Lund Sweden, a centre of expertise in network communications at the Communications research lab in Kalmar Sweden and a production site outside of Basingstoke UK, Exensor designs, develops and produces state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of customers. Exensor’s systems are used in a wide number of military, home land security and civilian applications world-wide.
About Bertin Technologies
Created in 1956, Bertin Technologies – a CNIM Group company – relies on its long history of innovation to develop, produce & supply innovative systems & equipment for challenging markets: Defence & Security, Health & Life Sciences, Nuclear & large scientific instruments, Aeronautics & Space, and Energy & Environment. The company also offers consultancy and engineering services to help manufacturers with the management of renewable energies, the energy performance of installations, the prevention of environmental risks and the treatment of special waste. Bertin IT, subsidiary of Bertin Technologies, provides advanced software solutions in information systems security and processing of digital and voice data. To meet the needs of its customers, Bertin operates in 12 offices and sites in France and worldwide (Europe, Asia, America, and Middle-East). Of the company’s 620 employees, about 2/3 are engineers and high-level managers. Its turnover amounted to nearly 100 million euros in 2018.
Founded in 1856, CNIM is a French equipment manufacturer and industrial contractor operating on a worldwide basis. The Group supplies products and services to major public and private sector organizations, local authorities and national governments in the Environment, Energy, Defence, and High Technology markets. Technological innovation is at the core of the equipment and services designed and manufactured by the Group. They contribute to the production of cleaner and more competitive energy, to limiting the environmental impacts of industrial activities, to making sensitive facilities and infrastructures safer and protecting individuals and nation states. Listed on the Paris Euronext exchange, CNIM relies on a stable family-based majority shareholding structure committed to its development. The Group employs 2,613 staff and reported revenues of €689.8 million in 2018, 62.1 % of which was from exports.