T-Rex, helping sniffer dogs

NBC-SYS has made a discreet entry into the world of explosives’ detection thanks to the T-REX system, one of whose prototypes was unveiled at SOFINS 2017. Innovation obliges, this subsidiary of the Nexter group has tried – and succeeded – in its attempt to unite three technologies with exotic names into one “nose”, namely surface acoustic waves, fluorescence and quartz microbalance. “A feature that is unique in the world for this kind of system,” says Bruno David, Sales Director of NBC-SYS.

Far from its Cretaceous equivalent, the NBC-SYS T-REX is small, lightweight, and extremely accurate in terms of detection

Originally conceived by the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) at the request of the government, the T-REX technology was assigned to NBC-SYS in 2014 to refine the development and initiate the industrialisation phase.

The coupling of the interaction of target vapours with specific sensitive materials and the algorithm developed by the CEA allows the detection in less than two minutes of a multitude of home-made or military explosives. And unlike other existing systems, T-REX is not subject to saturation, its “nose” automatically inhaling a new breath to enable a new measurement to be taken.

There is no question here of replacing sniffer dogs but of offering a complementary tool because even if the canine sense of smell is undeniable, “a sniffer dog is usually exhausted after 30 minutes, while the T-REX will operate 24/7,” explains David.

The five prototypes developed to date are now entering an evaluation phase with some end users, such as the critical infrastructure protection services, the French police and the French armed forces. The “new generation nose” is of utmost interest to military authorities, who see T-REX as an essential assistant for “controlling the pallets of supplies sent to units deployed on external theatres,” explains David.

NBC-SYS does not envisage T-REX entering service before 2019 in order to take into account the feedback from different operators, says David. The SME will also work on ergonomics so that T-REX “is lighter, around 5-6 kg, and smaller,” he adds. Ultimately, T-REX could evolve towards the creation of a family adapted to NRBC missions, and even to the fight against narcotics.