Release Date
November 8th, 2023
Open Date
December 18th, 2023
Due Date(s)
January 18th, 2024
Close Date
January 18th, 2024
Topic No.


Enhancing Mobile Radiological/Nuclear (R/N) Detection Through Contextual Information


Department of Homeland SecurityScience and Technology Directorate


Type: SBIRPhase: Phase IYear: 2024


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is seeking proposals for enhancing mobile radiological/nuclear (R/N) detection through contextual information. Currently, mobile R/N detection systems are available but lack the ability to positively locate threats. Law enforcement personnel have to manually search for the source of radiation with limited information. DHS is looking for innovative approaches to integrate contextual sensors with modular, commercially available mobile radiation detection systems. The resulting system should be easily installed in an unmodified sport utility vehicle (SUV) within one hour and weigh no more than 200 pounds. The system should include a vehicle-mounted radiation detection system, contextual sensors, connections among components, and an output display for situational awareness. Additional capabilities of interest include distance calculation to the radioactive source, 3D rendering or point cloud with radiation overlay, 3D maps covering multiple city blocks, source activity level calculation, mapping of distributed radioactive sources, and recognition of environmental changes. Interoperability with Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) or modified-COTS vehicle-mounted radiation detection systems is preferred. The project duration and funding specifics are not provided in the document. For more information, refer to the solicitation notice and SBIR topic link.


Mobile R/N detection systems are currently available to federal, state, and local authorities for purchase and deployment to detect R/N materials and related threats. These systems are sensitive and provide some indication of the direction from the detector to the threat but can't positively locate that threat. Law enforcement personnel have to leave their vehicles carrying hand-portable systems to search for and locate the source of the radiation with only a general idea of where to look. Operators need a system that provides real-time three-dimensional mapping with R/N source localization and attribution in a compact mobile unit that can be used for monitoring along challenging pathways such as urban environments and between obstacles found in ports of entry.

CWMD has worked with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to demonstrate the integration of Lidar and real-time video with a specialized mobile radiation detection system. The result was a customized solution that used Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) to provide object detection and tracking, coupled with localization and attribution of R/N threats to a particular object in the scene, such as a vehicle or person. The system was highly dependent on the complex, specialized radiation detection system; it could not readily be transferred to another vehicle. If the vehicle breaks down or is involved in an accident, the integrated detection system it’s carrying is unusable until the vehicle can be repaired.

This topic seeks innovative approaches to providing threat detection and localization through integration of contextual sensors with modular, commercially available mobile radiation detection systems. Offerors will use the detector in development of their contextual sensor integration system. The resulting system shall be capable of being quickly installed and readily shifted from one vehicle to another, as described below.

System characteristics and requirements: • The system should consist of components that operators can install in an unmodified sport utility vehicle (SUV) in less than one hour. Installation shall not require personnel with specialized maintenance or information technology expertise. • The system should consist of components small enough to be carried by a single person, weighing 50 pounds or less, each. • The system shall weigh no more than 200 pounds total. • The components should include: o A vehicle-mounted radiation detection system that meets the requirements of IEEE N42.43-2021, IEEE Standard for Mobile Radiation Monitors Used for Homeland Security; o Contextual sensors; o Connections among the components; and o Output to a display that operators can use for near-real-time situational awareness. • The system should store data and alarms for analysis and transmission and provide options for data retention and automatic cleanup. • The user interface should include near real-time maps and images identifying the location of the threat, attribution to an object such as a vehicle within traffic, along with probable identification of the radioactive isotope. • Additional capabilities of interest would be: o Calculating distance to the radioactive source; o Providing a 3D rendering or point cloud with radiation overlay; o Producing, displaying, and storing 3D maps that cover multiple city blocks, o Calculating the source activity level; o Providing a mode for mapping activity of a distributed radioactive source to the 3D surroundings; and o Recognizing changes in the environment if a vehicle passes the same location twice. • It is preferred that the contextual sensing system and algorithms be interoperable with Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) or modified-COTS vehicle-mounted radiation detection systems.