> our title:

Singapore Develops Reconnaissance, Surveillance UGVs

> original title:

Towards Smart Defence

(Source: Singapore Ministry of Defence; issued Sept 2, 2015)

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) may just have a swarm of spider-like devices to survey Singapore's key installations in the near future.

Called the Systems Technology for Autonomous Reconnaissance and Surveillance (STARS), this project was inspired by the Moroccan spider which has the ability to crawl, climb and roll. It even looks like one.

The next step is to make these devices small enough to be hidden from the human eye and for them to move in a group - unmanned.

"We intend to move these three concepts into one single application. So we'll probably see a spider which can roll, crawl and climb. At the same time, it's also small enough… imagine a few of them swarming," said Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Mohamed Feroz, Assistant Director of the Strategy and Future Group, Future Systems and Technology Directorate (FSTD).

If all goes well, these devices will be deployed within the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) campus by 2017. Depending on how well they can work in a controlled environment, they will then be deployed out for military use for surveillance purposes.

LTC Feroz was sharing Project STAR as an example of a Smart Defence initiative of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the SAF. He explained that the FSTD was always on the lookout for "what's next" for the military, with the intent of making improvements to what the SAF is already capable of.

He said: "It's taking what is out in the world to see if it can fit into the military. For example, today we have drones in the commercial world. Why can't the same be done in the military?"

The project was showcased at this year's MINDEF PRoductivity and Innovation in Daily Efforts (PRIDE) Day, with the theme, "Smart Nation, Smart Defence".

At the award presentation ceremony held at SUTD on 2 Sep, Second Minister for Defence Lui Tuck Yew articulated the importance of MINDEF's vision as a Smart Defence organisation.

He said: "Our vision of Smart Defence is to apply new technologies so that we, as an organisation, work smarter, and our people's work lives are improved.

"Within the SAF, data mining and analytics, coupled with predictive engines, can offer us enhanced sense-making and intelligence to detect security threats to Singapore... At the individual level, work life in MINDEF/SAF can be made more seamless through smart technologies. All these are in line with the national vision of Singapore as a Smart Nation."

Mr Lui also highlighted the importance of continuous innovation in MINDEF and the SAF to find better ways to achieve its mission.

"Looking ahead, as the SAF of the future will be even leaner, we must make technology work even harder for us, so as to maximise every soldier's potential in operations and relieve personnel of dangerous, laborious or mundane tasks."

In line with this, the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) is looking at a Smart Naval Base concept. This includes constantly improving its systems and base operations, and leveraging ideas generated by RSN personnel to make improvements.

Commander Force Support Squadron from Naval Logistics Command (NALCOM) Military Expert (ME) 6 Koh Cheok Wei said the Navy had been gathering feedback and ideas through crowd-sourcing activities to see how people's lives could be improved. Some of these ideas had proven to be exciting and feasible.

"We are looking at things like intelligent network and integrated systems which monitor everything that happens in the base," said ME6 Koh.

"We are also looking at using automation, in particular, a driverless bus that can help us transport things, people and materials like spare parts and food supplies within the base."

Other ideas include having an all-in-one card which is a security pass, computer card and meal-tracking device, and an automated gangway-lowering system.

While all these ideas are still at the conceptualisation and exploration stages, there is no stopping the Navy from embracing its innovation culture. ME6 Koh also revealed plans to cross-share work processes with other agencies such as Changi Airport and Immigration and Checkpoint Authority of Singapore to see how they manage operations and clear people at checkpoints respectively.

He said: "We should (explore all) possibilities…We can then expand or extract some of these ideas to make them more concrete."

This spirit of innovation was what earned NALCOM the Minister for Defence Award for the second consecutive year, and this year, they were inducted into the PRIDE Movement Hall of Fame.

Crediting his people for the organisation's success, Commander NALCOM ME7 Andy Tay said: "We have engagement forums regularly to engage our people (and) remind them of their mission. When people associate their daily work with a higher calling and purpose, it drives them to think out of the box, to do things better and to do better things."

This year, a total of 187 awards were presented to individuals, groups and units from MINDEF and the SAF in recognition of their outstanding and innovative projects. These innovations and ideas amounted to savings of $141.8 million.

Also at the MINDEF PRIDE Day 2015 award presentation were Chief of Defence Force Major-General Perry Lim and senior MINDEF and SAF officials.