Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, is leading efforts to tackle the growing issue of detecting low-flying objects (LFOs) at EU borders. With the rising use of drones and other LFOs for unauthorized activities like intelligence gathering and cross-border crime, there is a pressing need for sophisticated countermeasures to safeguard the security of European borders.
To address these challenges, Frontex has launched its first Prize Award Contest, concentrating on enhancing the detection, tracking, and identification of LFOs, including drones, paragliders, and small planes, that seek to breach EU borders. This innovation challenge encourages industry pioneers to create inventive, cost-efficient, and scalable technological solutions. These solutions should seamlessly integrate into operational capabilities and assist in validating an advanced surveillance model.
The total prize pool for this competition amounts to EUR 950,000 and has attracted 21 participant proposals. Currently, in the operational trial phase in Estonia, three finalists are competing for top honors. The remaining competitors include DAT CON d. o. o. from Slovenia, FLIR Systems AB (Teledyne FLIR) from Sweden, and Marduk Technologies from Estonia.
Estonia, selected for its commendable history of collaboration with national agencies and Frontex, is hosting the grand finale of this initiative, set to conclude on October 6th. This competition is conducted with the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (EASS) and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).
The finalists are presently demonstrating their technology in dynamic, real-world scenarios that replicate actual conditions and are assessed by an independent team simulating various threats. This groundbreaking event marks a first-of-its-kind endeavor in authentic situational environments to evaluate the effectiveness, resilience, and reliability of the proposed solutions in real-world settings.
The trial phase at the Ridali airfield in southern Estonia brings together a diverse group of experts from the private sector to governmental agency representatives. All are united in their shared mission of safeguarding the EU’s borders. On September 27th, representatives from EU Member States and EU agencies had the opportunity to witness the live trials firsthand.
Image Credit: Frontex