Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has used volunteers to test its smart-phone radiation detectors, developed as part of its SIGMA programme.

The programme aims to develop networked sensors that can provide real-time radiation detection over large urban areas.

DARPA performed the demonstration with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which distributed more than 100 SIGMA sensors in Washington, District of Columbia (DC), US.

DARPA programme manager Vincent Tang said: “The SIGMA system performed very well, and we collected and analysed a huge amount of streaming data as we watched in real-time as participants covered a large portion of DC.

"SIGMA is on track to provide US cities an enhanced layer of defence against radiological and nuclear threats."

“The data collected is already proving invaluable for further development of the system, and we’re excited that SIGMA is on track to provide US cities an enhanced layer of defence against radiological and nuclear threats.”

As part of the programme, more SIGMA mobile detectors were tested at one time.

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By GlobalData

in 2014, SIGMA began developing and testing low-cost radiation sensors that detect gamma and neutron radiation.

The detectors do not emit radiation and are networked through smartphones, allowing them to warn state and federal officials about potential nuclear and radiological threats.

SIGMA will continue to test the detectors' wide-area monitoring capabilities in 2017, before the system is provided to local, state and federal entities in 2018.

Image: A map of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., shows the location of the SIGMA mobile radiation detectors as deployment participants moved around the city. Photo: courtesy of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.