Frontex launched a prize award contest on December 19th for the detection of low-flying objects. These are any type of aerial platform, manned or unmanned, that fly in low-level airspace. 

Frontex is the European Border and Coast Guard Agency that develops, coordinates, and promotes European border management in accordance with the European Union fundamental rights charter and the concept of integrated Border Management.

Goal of the Frontex contest

The goal of this contest is to incentivize the industry to develop new concepts and solutions for new platforms. They seek a cost-effective, scalable, and integrated operational capabilities solution. The top-performing solution will receive an award. Frontex also wants to obtain insights on how potential solutions support a “proof-of-concept validation of what an effective multi-layered, multi-sensor surveillance model” (Frontex) and what that model may be. 

Participants are to propose a technological solution that will address the main challenge of the contest: 

“Considering the existing technological solutions available in the market (or those currently under development) and their potential combination in a multi-layered, multi-sensor model, how can low flying objects be effectively detected, tracked, and identified at a European land border in a cost-efficient, scalable, and integrated way (Frontex)?”

Each solution should contain at least three systems using active and passive detection capabilities (i.e., RF monitoring, camera, and radar). Frontex will then assess separately any additional included technical equipment, capability, and/or servicing capacity beyond these three criteria; if deemed relevant to the scope of the initiative, they could easily boost a proposal’s chances of winning. The final solution shown during the operational trials needs to have an appropriate level of technological maturity (TRL 6 or above).

Three phases of the contest

The contest will be organized in three phases: 

Phase One – Call for Prizes and Submission of Proposals

Participants will submit a white paper that presents the concept and states the main assumptions, capabilities, and limitations. They need to describe how the solution will address the technical and operational challenges around detecting low-flying objects at EU borders. 

Phase Two – Technical Capacity Evaluation

Participants will submit a technical document. They will give a detailed and comprehensive overview of the technical and operational capabilities along with limitations, specifications, and overall architecture. The document will present a working concept, prototype, or fully-fledged solution. 

Selected participants will present to Frontex’s representatives in agency premises. They will present the project team, the concept, and the proposed technological solution, showcasing the hardware and software. 

Phase Three – Operational Trials 

Participants are to prepare, deploy, and operate their proposed solutions. This will take place during a three-week operational trial in a relevant operational environment in an EU Member State. Participants will know the location of the hosting country right after the evaluation of round two. 

Total prize pool of EUR  950,000

The complete prize pool for the low-flying object detection contest is EUR 950,000 (Frontex). 

  • Phase One – EUR 10,000 awarded to a max of ten best-ranked proposals 
  • Phase Two – EUR 50,000 awarded to max of five best-ranked presentations of technical capacity 
  • Phase Three – EUR 250,000, EUR 200,000, and EUR 150,000 will be awarded to the top three proposals.

The proposal submission period will be open until February 15th, 2023. More contest information can be found here.

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