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A sensor to detect gunshot location

S. Vijay Kumar
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Technology developed by a team of MIT willminimise response time of security agencies

A technology that can precisely detect the source location of a random gunshot and direct a drone or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to the spot for capturing live visuals was successfully tested at the Tamil Nadu Police Academy here.

As commandos fired gunshots from different locations near Vandalur, K. Senthil Kumar of the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) and his team of researchers used an advanced acoustic sensor to calculate the coordinates of their location. Besides gunshots, the customised sensor can detect specific sounds, such as the noise of a jeep in a forest.

Police sources say Dr. Kumar, Associate Professor (Avionics Division), Department of Aerospace Engineering, MIT, approached the Tamil Nadu police for logistics to test the sensor. Commandos with arms and ammunition were spared for the test. Seconds after they opened fire, the system captured the coordinates of their locations.

“This technology helps to zero in on the exact location from where a gunshot is fired, thereby minimising the response time of law enforcement agencies. Though gunshot detector systems were put to use in some developed countries in recent months, we have introduced certain new components. For instance, this acoustic sensor can be fitted to drones or UAVs developed by us for tracking the movement of vehicles or unauthorised persons in prohibited areas like reserve forest,” Dr. Kumar told The Hindu on Friday.

If a sniper fired a bullet from an unknown location at a VVIP in a crowded place, the acoustic sensors, if installed in the vicinity, could instantly detect the place from where it was fired, he said. 

“With the firing impulse, we can develop an algorithm and pinpoint the source location. Multi-sensor approach can direct a drone fitted with cameras to the spot to capture live visuals… This electronic counter-measure technology can be operated in a radius of 3-5 km.”

Scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation met Dr. Kumar recently and held discussions on how drones could be deployed at strategic locations.

The UAVs developed by him were deployed as part of the security measures for the Karthigai Deepam festival and for inspecting some stretches of land in connection with the multi-crore granite scam in Madurai.

“Drones fitted with cameras and acoustic sensors can be deployed along borders, forests and inaccessible terrains to monitor the movement of unauthorised persons... The sensors can also be installed on vehicles, buildings and lampposts. Multi-sensor approach would yield much more effective results,” he said.

Acknowledging that the facility would help the police improve VVIP security and counter-terrorism measures, a senior police officer said three UAVs developed by Dr. Kumar would soon be procured at Rs. 95 lakh.

The technology, developed by a team of MIT, will minimise response time of security agencies


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