SRI International wins $11.6 M DARPA contract to develop early-warning chemical threat detection system

SRI International has been awarded a multi-year $11.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop advanced chemical sensors that can support detection of chemical threats in complex urban environments.

The system, called Localization and Characterization of Chemical Anomalies in Urban Settings (LOCCUS), will be developed under DARPA’s SIGMA+ Program. LOCCUS will be designed for deployment on vehicles that can move through a city to detect trace levels of precursors – chemicals that are used to make WMDs such as chemical weapons and explosives.

“LOCCUS will combine two orthogonal high-performance chemical detection technologies to surpass the sensing capabilities currently possible with a single sensing approach,” said Ashish Chaudhary, Ph.D., SRI senior program manager and principal investigator of LOCCUS. “This high-sensitivity, high-endurance detection capability will demonstrate scalability, longevity and cost-effectiveness.”

SRI a collaborative effort with subcontractors Block MEMS, Signature Science, and Two Six Labs. SRI’s micro mass spectrometer technology will enable the system to conduct two-dimensional chemical mapping as the vehicle drives through an area by leveraging point sensing to analyze chemical composition of ambient air. Block MEMS’ technology will leverage an eye-safe laser capability to generate chemical maps via standoff sensing in a complex three-dimensional urban topography.

SRI is committed to developing high-impact solutions to critical problems related to national security, and this program is at the heart of our dedication to continue those strides,” said Scott Seaton, president, SRI’s Advanced Technology and Systems Division. “We greatly appreciate DARPA’s confidence in our technologies and operational approach.