The technology and innovations from the Brainport region are going to make the Defense equipment smarter, more efficient, and more advanced. That is the intention of a new cooperation agreement.
Between the tanks, weapons, and army tents on the grounds of the barracks in Oirschot on Thursday, a select group of people stands after a just-signed covenant. The state secretary of Defense, the director of Brainport Development, and a deputy of the Province of North Brabant, all seem to be in high spirits.
The message is: Cooperation offers numerous advantages. It is good for our economy, contributes to the protection of the Netherlands, and offers companies in the region opportunities to develop new products. And last but not least, the defense can act as a testing ground to test new technologies. Paul van Nunen, Director of Brainport: “We have companies looking for places to practice, with autonomous driving and robotization. Well, look around here. There is no better place!”
The cooperation between tech companies from the Eindhoven high-tech region and Defense already exists – although on a modest scale. The Eindhoven company ViNotion, for example, which is an offshoot of Eindhoven TU, has been developing a system to detect roadside bombs for years. In doing so, sensors on military vehicles detect changes in the landscape that may indicate the presence of homemade explosives.
“Roadside bombs are not very familiar things,” says Egbert Jaspers, director of ViNotion. “It could be a can of Coke, things that are buried where a wire comes out. It can also be a pile of rocks which is an indicator to the enemy that if the vehicle is there I have to press a button to set off the bomb. So we are looking for something that is unknown.”
The system was developed using Artificial Intelligence. “Shadows of trees falling across the road are a change in the landscape, but do not indicate roadside bombs. We teach the computer to recognize and ignore things like that.” After years of development, it is planned that soon a number of military vehicles of the Dutch army will start working with this system. The ultimate goal is to make the technology available internationally as well.
Using innovations to strengthen the military: it has not led to objections of principle or discussions about ethics at Brainport. Van Nunen: “I believe that if you love peace and security, you have to defend it. And I think because of recent developments in Ukraine, a lot of people feel the same way.”
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta. She also gives online INBURGERING classes.