SOLDIERS in war zones may soon have Scots scientists to thank for giving them better protection.

Researchers in Edinburgh are to develop new software to process information acquired from the huge range of sensors present in the modern battlefield - ranging from radar and sonar to mobile phones.

The aim of the five-year, £4 million project is to enable operatives to quickly analyse risk and respond to threats.

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Engineers at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, who are developing the systems, hope they will have potential applications for land, sea and airspace. Researchers will seek to create software that can assimilate signals from many sources over a wide area, enabling military personnel to respond rapidly when necessary.

Key challenges to be overcome include picking out significant signals, which may be faint, or overlapping, amid lots of background signal noise.

The five-year project, entitled Signal Processing in the Networked Battlespace, is led by the University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC) on Signal Processing and is funded by the Ministry of Defence and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Mike Davies, director of the UDRC, said: "The modern-day conflict zone is awash with sensors, from mobile phones to high-end radars. Operatives in the field need technology that can help to identify and assess threats, housed in computing equipment that is portable and easy to manage."