Nowadays, maritime piracy turns out to be a severe threat for commercial ships, as illustrated by recent events that occurred in Gulfs of Aden and Guinea. Consequently, the design of a fully integrated shipborne self-protection system to counter this treat becomes a requirement. Today’s technology allows to equip commercial ships that are sailing in high-risk areas with early detection, dissuasion and protection capabilities to face coordinated attacks from pirates in various scenarios.
In this paper, a practical example of a module composed of multiple distributed COTS Infra-Red passive sensors is discussed. It is focused on a 360° close day/night surveillance system around the ship to detect and track these specific threats. The observation module presented hereafter takes advantage of Sagem experience in naval applications and infrared-based surveillance systems. The paper puts forward the detection process (image processing and 3D tracking). The module is planned to be combined with other ones (radar, AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) and electro-optics sensors suites) through a data fusion process in order to provide the ship with a continuous maritime awareness situation from long to very short ranges. The multisensor suite is part of BlueDome, a comprehensive and non-lethal anti-piracy solution developed by the Sagem-led Autoprotection consortium and recently unveiled at the Euromaritime trade show.
To conclude, results of detection scenarios are provided. Data have been registered during sea trials dedicated to very short range threats. Results highlight how the module detects and tracks the threats to be targeted. They also demonstrate how module performances are improved by implementing two specific processes: track fusion and features association in tracking process (heuristics assessment).