Management talk

Ola Jacob Iversen

Ola Jacob is head of the research and development unit of DLS and is responsible for 250 engineers who are developing PROTECTOR Remote Weapon Station (RWS) and Tactical Communication systems.

  • Text:Stuart Brewer

    Photo:Ove Ronny Haraldsen

Q: Which technologies/areas are you and DLS focusing on?

We are working on developments related to PROTECTOR and Tactical Communication systems. For readers not familiar with this, PROTECTOR is the family brand name for our remote weapon stations and turrets which are designed to protect the crew inside armoured vehicles, eliminating exterior-interior interfaces that make the crew vulnerable to snipers or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Rather than manually operating the gun, the gunner sits protected inside the vehicle and operates an exterior-mounted gun.

Tactical Communication is a custom-made military radio network enabling soldiers and systems to communicate in theatre, regardless of the availability of other infrastructure such as 4G networks and their vulnerability to jamming by hostile forces. Reliable connectivity is crucial for efficient military operations.

Much of what we do aligns with the KONGSBERG strategy and the baseline technologies which focus on autonomy, analytics and interaction. For example, the MUM-T supports most of the strategic priorities within DLS and is important for our business going forward.

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Put simply, the MUM-T provides support to one or more unmanned vehicles and may operate in various modes, more or less independently of the base vehicle. The operators in the base vehicle may control the MUM-T from the operator positions. The MUM-T supports transportation, observation and/or engagement capabilities.

This MUM-T project brings together developments in multi-sensor tracking, neural networks, THOR broadband, cybersecurity, digital twins and various other technologies to enable safe and secure wireless weapon and platform control; tactical broadband communication; autonomy; and artificial intelligence. 

So in short, our PROTECTOR-related activities align well with the enabling technologies set out by the Technology Forum. And at DLS we have strengthened competency and product features over the past few years due to trends seen from our customers which are aligned with the KOG Technology Strategy. PROTECTOR finds targets autonomously (still keeping humans in the decision loop) using analytics based on artificial Intelligence. Interaction is now an improved experience for the user and is being launched to new and existing customers.

Q: What excites you most about technology development?

What really excited me as a young engineer was how I could combine mathematics, physics and programming to simulate the real world, especially when I managed to get it to work. This was in the early 1990s when I grew up with my Commodore 64. Now, as a technology user and R&D Unit leader, I’m especially excited when technology is zero hassle to use, letting us achieve better outcomes with less effort. AI, AR, digital twins, digitalization - these buzz words enable better communication between people. They facilitate better services and features and improved collaboration/interaction. Indeed, technological innovation has an important role in achieving safe and sustainable solutions, but it only really works when combined with broad collaboration.

Q: And your thoughts on technology collaboration across KONGSBERG?

Ola Jacob: KONGSBERG is a technology company where new technologies are developed each and every day by committed and dedicated engineers. We should seek to share technology rather than reinventing the wheel at every turn, and I think KONGSBERG has a proven record of sharing. Management are great enablers when committed to sharing and collaboration. Engineers can also share ideas across business units when they meet at arenas such as the annual KOG Technology Conference. I hope that we can achieve the same or even broader collaboration through KOG Tech Talks.

Q: Could you mention some collaborative projects which you are particularly proud of?

The PROTECTOR RWS was developed using both Missile Division technology and expertise from other KDA divisions. I think this was an important enabling strategy by management back at the beginning of this journey.

A more recent example is the collaboration between DLS and Kongsberg Maritime Seatex (KSX) on combining their radar technology with our RWS in order to counter hostile drones. It was inspiring that we won the KOG Collaboration Award together with KM Seatex for this cross-divisional project. The project, called Counter Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS), has demonstrated collaboration between two divisions from different business areas - KDA and Kongsberg Maritime. It has also demonstrated a new way to integrate Kongsberg technology that has a great market potential.

The collaboration has been outstanding at all levels in the organizations, with open dialogues and information exchange on agreements, business plans, roadmaps and technology. This has fostered synergies for both BUs, including the introduction of KSX to KDA´s military market. The development of a new multi-sensor tracker led to technology assessment and collaboration on solutions between KSX and KDA (DLS). There’s also competence-sharing on KOG solutions and technology for future products.

The successful demonstrator is based on military products together with a sensor from the traditional oil and gas market that has been taken to the next level based on both core and emerging technologies. And the technologies are aligned with KOG emerging technologies.

Another opportunity we are working on with KM Seatex is related to a project with SINTEF called Cyber Security in Merchant Shipping - Service Evolution (CySiMS-SE). DLS is helping to develop a solution for the secure exchange of maritime information, based on experience from secure military communications systems. It’s a sort of “BankID at Sea”, providing a means for secure authentication and communication between ships and between ships and shore. We can make Merchant shipping a lot less vulnerable to cyber-attacks.