The Proteus is a state-of-the-art integrated system intended for counter-terrorism and crisis management operations. Operations of the emergency services are to be supported by three multi-functional robots, unmanned aircraft and mobile command centre. The system is to be completely integrated, which is an innovation on a global scale and poses a serious challenge to engineers involved in the project.
The Proteus Project, on which the works started in August 2008, is being realized by consortium of leading Polish research centres headed by the Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements (PIAP). The project is scheduled for years 2008-2013. The idea of development of an integrated system supporting anti-terrorism and crisis management operations was conceived as early as in 2003 at PIAP as a response to new challenges faced by emergency services. Violent weather phenomena, terrorism, chemical and biological threats, and the increasing presence of technology in everyday life require cutting-edge, system solutions. That is the word “system” which is the key in case of the Proteus.
To break technology barriers
Every device being a component of the Proteus performs a strictly defined function, and simultaneously is an integral part of the system. Elements of the Proteus are already used in rescue services and military structures, but bringing them together to create one operational unit is innovative even on a global scale. It is only the beginning for this kind of solutions to be developed in the world, and additionally they are created virtually exclusively for the military purposes.
The IT system of the Proteus will allow for the presentation of the gathered data in a clear way, their comparison with reference data, and with aid of GIS systems (Geographic Information System is a system for acquisition, processing and presentation of data with reference to geographic location) it will enable, for instance, determination of direction in which spreads chemical contamination or fire. It will significantly enhance and speed up decision making processes, enabling the supervision and insight into the region under threat. Interconnection of existing elements and solutions into an integrated system capable of performing various tasks depending on the needs, is the essence of originality of the Proteus Project.
The Proteus “brain” is to be Mobile Command Centre (MCC) designed by scientists and engineers from Poznan University of Technology. The MCC is a large truck equipped with complex communications and operation systems. This is where, owing to data acquisition and interpretation, decisions affecting the action will be made. Apart from processing and integration of data coming from the system components taking part in action (robots, unmanned aircraft), the MCC will be in continuous communications with command posts of police, fire service and crisis management centres.
With the selection and integration of GIS data deals the Space Research Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences, which is also responsible for construction of position sensors and project promotion.
On-line data from the operation site will be provided by the developed at Poznan University of Technology unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Owing to cameras and other sensors installed on-board the person in command of action will have at their disposal a wide picture of situation from the place of intervention.
Directly to the operation site are to be sent mobile robots of three types, every one of different functionalities and purpose. The Small Mobile Robot (SMR) is a robot of small dimensions and very high mobility, intended for operations in places of hard accessibility. Owing to on-board video and thermovision cameras it will be able to perform inspection in places which would be impossible to reach by human or a larger robot. In turn, Mobile Intervention Robot (MIR) is a technological equivalent of special forces – its task is intervention. Larger and heavier, it will be equipped with manipulator and set of sensors intended for determination of threat levels. The largest of three robots will be the Mobile Enhanced Functionality Robot (MEFR) – heavy cavalry of the Proteus. Mass of about 300 kg, capability of carrying weights of mass up to 40 kg with a manipulator of range of 2 meters, structure enabling the installation of additional devices: sensors, negotiation package or pyrotechnic guns – those are its basic features.
To the site of operation all robots will be carried by Mobile Robot Operator Centre (MROC) mounted (similarly as the MCC) on a chassis of a truck. The MCOR is to be equipped with devices for rapid loading and unloading of robots, portable robot operator stands (PROS) and a system of communications with command centre.
All components of the Proteus will be mobile, which will enable their transportation to the place of intervention, and modular structure of the whole allows for rapid adaptation to the specifics of the particular action.
The Proteus in the future
The Proteus in assumption is addressed to satisfy needs of the emergency services in Poland: the fire service, police, border guard, crisis management centres. The project will finish with the development of a demonstration version of the system, whose presentation is planned in August 2013. A simulated emergency operation will enable the assessment of effectiveness of the complete, integrated system. “Our ambition is to build a demo version of the system that will be so advanced in terms of structure and technology that developing it into a fully operational prototype of the Proteus system will take very little time”, promised Paweł Wojtkiewicz, project coordinator. It would be possible to hand over the prototype like that to the Polish services for conducting a series of tests. From that point there is a quick way to commercialisation not only of the system as a whole, but also its particular elements developed as a result of research work conducted during the project.