Smart Sensors and Machine Learning Are Already Driving the Future of Defense

2021-07-15 01:42 - MADES

Excitement is still in the air following the award of the FENCE (Fast Event-based Neuromorphic Camera and Electronics) project to Raytheon Technologies Corp. The United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the financing partner. 

Projects such as this one suggest a future of defense that will be dominated by smart sensors and machine learning. Innovations that support advanced remote, real-time sensing and monitoring, coupled with more detailed information detection are in top gear. The question is, how prepared is the military for this inevitable future? 


Sensor Relevance and Market Value Increasing

The global smart sensor market will be worth a whopping $89.9 billion in 2027. The defense sensors market could be worth $33.2 billion in 2025. The main contributor to this growth is increased demand for military aircraft and armored vehicles. The main applications for military sensors are:

  • Monitoring and surveillance
  • Communication and navigation
  • Target recognition 
  • Reconnaissance 
  • Electronic warfare 

These applications can be in naval, munition, land, airborne, or naval platforms. 

In this age of machine learning, the defense can tap from feature-rich smart sensors for even better capabilities in the above applications. This area is still a work in progress, but it is already proving to be revolutionary. In 2019, the American military demonstrated the capability of a smart sensor network to deal with enemy missiles. Artificial intelligence and smart sensors redirected missiles in flight . 

Raytheon Technologies uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance the reconnaissance and surveillance prowess of the American Army and its allies. The goal is to use data speedily and at a large scale to get accurate targeting info and usable intelligence. 


Innovations for the Future of Defense

The military has a good number of autonomous unmonitored devices. For instance, a remotely operated drone can travel to a specified location and bring back data. It doesn’t matter if the operator will remain in contact or not; it will complete the mission. 

However, the future of defense is defined by the capability of the sensor to adapt to mission requirements, in real-time. In the example above, the sensor would intelligently determine aspects like the best camera resolution or most suitable flying altitude. 

Having such an advantage is desirable for the military. Machine learning and smart sensors can be effective in not only detecting suspicious activity but also identifying an ongoing activity. 

Remote sensing and monitoring can help the military detect concealed missiles and bombs. Advanced smart sensors can also detect airborne pathogens and provide an alarm in real-time. That’s why future battlefields will be incomplete without smart sensors coupled with machine learning. 



Smart sensors and machine learning are the future of defense- the continual increase of unmanned systems is a good indicator. As research in this area progresses, the resilience and capability of these technologies will improve. The point is that no defense department can afford to ignore this direction, because rivals will not. Critical decisions must remain with humans, but the value of these tools is worth the investment. 

MADES partners with leading defense contractors in Europe and North America. We supply complex defense systems including surveillance, telemetry, radar, power electronics, electro-optics, and target identification. Sensor innovation is an area of interest, so we will be updating you on the extent and direction this industry takes. 

Electromagnetic Interference in Medical DevicesMADES Electronic Systems Integration - Prototyping and Design