Supporting the evolution of the defence and security industry through innovation

- Ottawa, Ontario

On May 31 and June 1, 2023, experts from the Aerospace Research Centre, the Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre, and the Security and Disruptive Technologies Research Centre at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are participating in CANSEC, Canada’s largest global defence and security trade show at the EY Centre in Ottawa.

The NRC conducts research and develops technology for clients and partners, delivering security and defence solutions for air, land and sea transportation as well as for infrastructure and buildings, controlled goods and intelligence.

In addition, the NRC and one of its largest collaborators, the Department of National Defence (DND), established a Memorandum of Understanding to further advance R&D solutions in defence and security. This renewed 25-year agreement reaffirms the importance of sustainability and national strategic defence capabilities at a time where disruptive innovations such as quantum technologies and AI have become major game changers for nations. Built on more than 100 years of collaboration, this strategic partnership will become increasingly more critical to Canada’s defence forces, the defence and security industry, and Canadians.

Aerospace Research Centre

On display at CANSEC: CF-188 multi-role fighter aircraft model

Using both experimental and analytical approaches, experts from the Aerospace Research Centre are able to assess and predict the safe operating life of primary airframe structures. With the goal of helping DND and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to better manage and sustain their existing and future aircraft fleets, recently the teams from the Aerospace Research Centre’s Structures and Materials Performance Lab provided full-scale testing and modeling support to extend CF-188 flight control surfaces much beyond their original life.

This work was carried out on 4 main control surfaces of the aircraft, involved customized test rigs design and setup, multi-point hydraulic loading and multi-channel data acquisition systems, non-destructive inspection, and quantitative fractography. Advanced experimental mechanics techniques, including digital image correlation, thermal stress analysis, and fibre optic sensing, were also applied in the tests and then used for developing an aircraft digital twin to support the RCAF’s strategic sustainment program.

Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre

On display at CANSEC: Defence and security mobility solutions

The NRC’s Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Centre has created digital twins, or virtual representations, of wheeled and tracked military vehicles by combining laboratory testing in the NRC’s structural dynamics facility, field testing and modeling as well as simulation techniques. Digital twins make it possible to rapidly analyze the performance and safety characteristics of proposed changes in vehicle configuration and to evaluate vehicle mobility or ability to traverse different types of terrain. The NRC works with DND to develop digital twins of varying complexity for a range of vehicles, from ultra-lightweight combat vehicles to heavy armoured and logistics vehicles. The NRC is also conducting related research on off-road vehicle mobility. This includes remote terrain-sensing techniques for real-time mobility performance feedback to drivers or for autonomous off-road vehicle applications as well as support for the ongoing development of the Next Generation NATO Reference Mobility Model.

Battery performance and safety evaluation research facility

Battery systems are critical for providing safe and dependable power and energy solutions for both mobile and stationary applications in a range of environments. Experts from our Battery performance and safety evaluation research facility provide evidence-based solutions on the electrical, structural and thermal design of battery systems for our clients that allow them to bring ideas to life while avoiding costly mistakes. We apply our expertise to characterize battery performance and safety at all scales, from single cells to electric vehicle packs, in various environments and uses. Our deep knowledge of the range of battery systems on the market allows us to evaluate a prototype or the quality of a product being considered for integration in a system.


Security and Disruptive Technologies Research Centre

On display at CANSEC: Quantum magnetic intelligence

The NRC’s Security and Disruptive Technologies Research Centre is working with SBQuantum, a company that aims to unlock diamond-based magnetic intelligence combined with multiple innovations in magnetometry to enhance the ability of operational teams to “see” underground, underwater and in other obscured environments. Working with DND and industry, our researchers help develop cutting-edge materials and solutions for defence and security applications.

The National Quantum Strategy, announced in January 2023, will support Canada’s quantum sector and solidify Canada’s position among leaders in this fast-growing field. With an investment of $360 million, this strategy will help pave the way for future quantum investment and development. It will guide investments along 3 pillars − quantum research, talent and commercialization − toward achieving 3 key missions in quantum computers and software, communications and sensors.

On display at CANSEC: Smart molded parts

Using a new molecular ink, a printable ink with conductive and stretchable properties, e2ip technologies in collaboration with the NRC, has developed an innovative technology that integrates electronic circuits and sensors onto 2D sheets of thin plastic. These are formed and over-molded in protective plastic to create smart surfaces and parts.

This technology makes it possible to manufacture sleek multi-functional user interfaces that are lighter and more compact and can be produced at a lower cost. This disruptive technology is set to completely transform the surfaces we touch and will reimagine the way we interact with the world around us.

On display at CANSEC: 3D printed antennas

5G and future generations of wireless networking technologies will play a crucial role in the success of defence and security organisations in the years to come. Additive manufacturing is uniquely capable of manufacturing antennas that are miniaturized, lightweight, low-cost, beam-steerable, integrated and programmable to meet the challenges of current and future operating environments.

The Security and Disruptive Technologies Research Centre will display additively manufactured antennas that demonstrate how advanced materials and 3D printing technologies can be combined to manufacture the next generation of antennas.

Digital Technologies Research Centre

The Multimedia Analytic Tools for Security program

The Digital Technologies Research Centre Multimedia Analytics Tools for Security program brings together end-users and industry partners to develop advanced vision systems to support various types of surveillance and detection missions as well as AI-based analytic solutions that help find critical information with greater precision and speed. Under the program, the main deliverables are software algorithms and prototypes that will contribute to developing solutions for national defence, security, and public safety operators and analysts.

Digital Privacy and Security program

The Digital Privacy and Security program combines deep expertise both in the IT-related domains of digital privacy, cybersecurity and responsible AI and in the application domain industries in which these technologies are deployed. Our position as an expert non-regulatory government organization allows us to provide independent expert advice with an awareness of not only the specific digital privacy or cybersecurity challenges but also the environment in which the technologies will ultimately need to function.

New approach to drone detection

Experts from our Digital Technologies Research Centre are working with Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and the Canadian Armed Forces to develop a brand-new approach to drone detection that disrupts the status quo. Current detection technologies identify drones using an image bank. This new project uses AI to detect, track and characterize drones based on the signal generated by their rotating propellers.


Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre

As part of the maintenance and modernization of the Canadian fleet, DND enlisted the help of our Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre to design, build and test a new autopilot control system that, when engaged, automatically adjusts and compensates for any disturbance that could affect a vessel’s set course through the water. The NRC’s physical modelling services proved ideal for testing the upgraded autopilot system as it allowed DND to see the trial software in action, since the model submarine could be maneuvered on command. The NRC also provides expertise in creating technical specifications and procurement strategies, evaluating and implementing engineering changes, and evaluating performance improvements using digital simulation and tank tests.

Through our research in Arctic regions, we focus on providing safer and more efficient shipping routes as well as improved oil spill detection, countermeasures, clean-up methods in ice and ensuring more reliable ice road operations. Our efforts increase the likelihood of crew members surviving an emergency evacuation from a vessel in ice-covered waters or an offshore platform.

Clean Energy Innovation Research Centre

Microgrid testing and training facility

In a long-term partnership with DRDC and the Canadian Coast Guard, the NRC’s microgrid testing and training facility in Vancouver is being used to validate, tune and test renewable energy resources and energy storage systems, as a part of future plans to deploy hybrid technologies in remote North Warning System sites. The NRC’s Clean Energy Innovation Research Centre is leading the effort to develop energy management systems and dynamic control algorithms to help DND meet their greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. We visited 43 of the sites to perform assessments on the power and control systems and acquire measured data to develop optimized models suitable for hybrid power system operation.

Metrology Research Centre

The photometry and spectrophotometry (PS) team at the Metrology Research Centre has a long-term collaborative project with DRDC’s Suffield Research Centre to develop surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) chemical sensors for detecting hazardous chemicals, such as chemical warfare agents, and the elements that activate them. The goal is to develop a robust, rapid, sensitive and field-deployable technology to detect chemical and biological warfare agents in order to better protect Canadian military personnel on the battlefield. SERS sensors have demonstrated unprecedented sensitivity and are particularly suitable for identifying chemical agents and providing early warning of exposure. They can also serve as a forensic investigation tool to detect tiny amounts of non-traditional agents, explosives and narcotics in illegal drug labs.

Over the last 10 years, we have continued to improve our PS-SERS sensors with help from DRDC to get them ready for use in the battlefield. The sensors were used in 2 international joint field trials in 2017 and 2019 and submitted for a joint NATO R&D project on SERS detection and decontamination.


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