Denel Dynamics showcases new technology


Denel Dynamics has showcased some of the technology projects that its interns have developed over the course of the year, from surveillance robots to missile testing equipment, during its Interns of 2015 Show and Tell event.

Denise Wilson, Denel Dynamics deputy chief executive, said during Thursday’s event that every year around 20 interns join the company – these are bursary students sponsored by Denel Dynamics, who after their year at the company move on to permanent employment there. This year Dynamics has 18 interns.

One of the projects showcased by the 2015 interns at the Denel Dynamics Auditorium in Irene was the Tactical Observation Ball System, designed to allow soldiers to see beyond barriers on the battlefield. Three balls were developed over a period of eleven months by the intern team.

Jason Scott, project manager, said the requirements for the ball were that it had to be hand throwable; be able to penetrate a 3 mm thick pane of glass; survive a six metre drop onto concrete; have a range of 20 metres; and endurance of 10 minutes. Due to all the components that had to be squeezed in, the ball came out a bit bigger and twice as heavy as specified, at 90 mm diameter and 310 grams. The glass penetration test was not completed due to time constraints but the drop test was carried out successfully and operating range turned out to be 30 metres. The ball’s camera is able to distinguish between a person, child and dog, as specified in the requirements. Video is sent to the controlling Android smartphone via a wifi signal.

As the ball was designed to be an expendable item, it was designed with low cost in mind and would cost around R8 000 each if mass produced. Wilson told defenceWeb that it would be nice to take the technology further and see it being used but the main purpose was to instil knowledge in the interns.

Another item showcased was an infrared dynamic scene generator, used to test the infrared sensors fitted to Denel Dynamics missiles and cameras. The purpose of the project was to develop a low cost device of around R150 000, compared to a million rand for off the shelf systems.

The device comprises several dozen thermal pixels which form an array. These alter their thermal properties (i.e. they change temperature), allowing the sensor being tested to detect the differences in hot and cold and therefore be calibrated. “The final goal is to simulate realistic target environments for missile seeker heads which comprise of infrared technology,” according to Denel, which said the project was conceived as a low cost in house alternative to current systems on the market.

The infrared dynamic scene generator is going to be used by Denel Dynamics’ electro-optics department, and may also be used by other Denel departments.

Another of the innovations showcased on Thursday was the streamlining of Denel Dynamic’s shipping system. Intern Sibusiso Chauke said that Denel Dynamics was losing money on the cancellation of bank guarantees due to problems with missing paperwork and other hitches. This was largely due to a cumbersome, paper-based shipping process that saw every product being shipped using a different system. As a result, Dynamics interns developed a centralised shipping system to streamline the process. It is largely digitally based, doing away with cumbersome paperwork and allowing items to be instantly tracked.