UAVs could be future of CBRN detection

An article in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear news publication,, looks at the benefits and drawbacks of investing in chemical weapon detection capabilities installed on unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Should we even be spending money on this area of CBRN when there are much more pressing issues to address?" author Steve Johnson asks.

The answer, he writes in the Spring 2010 issue of the publication, is not clear-cut. He writes that remote inspection of chemical weaponry by unmanned vehicles, while far off, could be useful on the battlefield. However, investing in such technological advances might be taking away efforts from to improve biological detection and UAVs.

"The ideas (UAVs) generate – dormant swarms of robots able to neutralize attacks immediately, aggressively pursuing contamination and even delivering medical countermeasures – is rather far away for the moment," Johnson writes.

Johnson writes that better surveillance capabilities on UAVs could help prevent rogue nations from launching a CBRN attack.

He adds that "The issues with CBRN and UAVs are fairly straightforward: what is the concept of their employment? How do they improve CBRN defence in a way that is relevant to the modern threat?"

The issue will be discussed further at the CBRNe annual conference at the Rosen Plaza in Orlando, Fla., from Nov. 2-5.