Tagging and Tracking is a major part of the Find, Fix, and Finish cycle in current drone based targeting of individuals. Current methods of attaching beacons to suspects vehicles can be problematic for a number of reasons from the difficulty of placing the devices undetected, to keeping the devices undetected, to keeping devices powered, retrieval of devices, and the like. Taggents and other materials that allow low probability detection of deployment potentially solve some of these issues but while a useful tool still suffer from a number of defects including the requirement to have sensors that can maintain visual monitoring making pattern of life and finding tagged targets difficult.
Voxtel’s taggants are based on quantum dots – semiconductor nanocrystals less than 50 atoms across. Because of quantum effects, they absorb and emit light at specific wavelengths. The company has demonstrated a taggant powder that, when illuminated with an invisible ultraviolet laser, can be detected by infrared cameras 2 kilometres away. The powder is delivered as an aerosol that clings to metal, glass and cloth, and batches can be engineered to have distinct spectral signatures.
The nanocrystals would be sprayed by a hand-launched drone such as the Raven (pictured). With a wingspan of less than 1.5 metres, it is quiet and has a range of several kilometres. A larger Predator drone could then illuminate the target with an ultraviolet laser and track its progress.