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From the Publisher
March 29, 2012   
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A good idea, a hundred experts from 10 institutions, and loads of money, plus a will and a way. This is a simple recipe for productive collaboration between science and business.

All this has fallen into place for a consortium of Polish research centers and institutions that is working on a zl.68 million counterterrorism and crisis management project called Proteus. The aim of the project, which is named after a Greek god of the sea that had power over the elements, is to develop a modern system to protect people from the consequences of natural disasters such as floods and fires as well as from chemical and biological attacks. The system will be adapted to the needs of emergency services including firefighters, the police, border guards, and crisis management centers.

The research consortium is led by the Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements (PIAP) in Warsaw, which is the originator and coordinator of the project, and other members include the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Fire Security Research Center, the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME), the Poznań University of Technology, the Warsaw University of Technology, and the Military University of Technology in Warsaw. This last university can provide more than 100 experts, while the National Center for Research and Development (NCBiR) is a generous source of funds.

The Proteus system will comprise a mobile command center, an unmanned aircraft, and three mobile robots. Other components of the system will include a mobile robot operator center that will transport all the robots to the scene as well as a multitude of cameras, detectors and assorted equipment.

In this issue of The Polish Science Voice, Piotr Szynkarczyk, manager of the Proteus project, and project coordinator Paweł Wojtkiewicz tell us about the challenges involved, noting that Proteus is “one of those things that you should have even if it would be better if you didn’t have to use it.”

But before they put their system on the market, the researchers need to cut through time-consuming paperwork, secure the necessary certificates, conduct tests and fine-tune their designs. This is likely to take anywhere from two to four years, although some components of the system are already used in practice.

Why is worth building one’s own system of this kind from scratch instead of just buying a similar product abroad? Wojtkiewicz has the answer: “Simply because no other product like this is available elsewhere in the world. Individual components of such a system are produced, but an integrated system consisting of these parts is not available for civilian services. Our product offers technology tailored to the needs of services responsible for public security. Finally, the price: for now, what we offer can only be compared with military equipment and solutions in terms of price, and the conclusion from this comparison is that our system would certainly be cheaper.”
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