Basic principle

The concept of the AMS

The AMS is an automated station in situ whose role is to record different types of information.

The idea to place cameras to watch the sky is not new and currently many people conduct this type of surveillance. On the other hand, it is the first time in France that the project for an automated measurements station to study non-identified aeronautical phenomena has gone this far.

The Hessdalen AMS , summer 2001

To our knowledge the only similar project that exists in Europe is the Hessdalen project in Norway. It was following several conversations with persons in charge of this team that our group decided to join the adventure. We follow closely all the advancements of this project, which is unique in the world, and we are in regular communication with them in order to profit from their vast experience in the field of automated detection. Our exchanges also make it possible to note possible similarities between the various phenomena observed at the two sites.

The objective is to gather data on unusual aerial phenomena (or in the proximity). This information is essential for all concrete approaches to analyze these transitory phenomena. We know that the quantity of data depends on a factor of chance, but we can increase the chances by affecting this surveillance in an area where witness accounts are statistically higher than normal. This is the case here with this known area in the region inland from Vence. In addition, the AMS must be able to ensure vigil as long as possible because for technical reasons, we are limited to night watches.

The quality of the data is of equal importance. This quality is directly linked to the specifications of the camera utilized. Initially we use a high quality camera and other sensors could be easily added to the system.

Justification of instruments

All of the instruments must be linked to an automatic recording system in real-time, enabling not only to permanently save (backup) the data but also to study it afterwards.

The objective is not to want to record "beautiful UFO videos" but the idea is to use the varied measurement equipment (temperature, hygrometry, microwave, non-visible spectrum, etc.) in addition to videos from traditional cameras.

In fact the measurements of indirect data linked to a transitory unusual event, are sometimes as important, in terms of information, as a great video. It is the regrouping of several important physical parameters which will make it possible to be able to start to work out a theory on the possible nature of such or such phenomenon.

The future of such a project is indeed related at the same time to the relevance of the data collected, analyzed and treated, but also with the quality of its instrumentation, its evolution and how much area is covered.

The ICDV AMS project will evolve through later successive additions starting off with simple solutions, that once proven, will allow the place for more sophisticated equipment.

Diagram of detectors which are able to be mounted on the AMS system

Some examples of sensors that could be added to the system :

Analysis of data and communications

The data gathered must be studied by competent people. We invite any interested parties to come and study the data and give their opinion. We do not wish to analyze the data ourselves. On one hand because we do not necessarily have the required expertise, and on the other hand because we lack the time we are forced to concentrate on other objectives (of which improving the technical aspects is one).

Here is an extreme version of sky surveillance
(American equipment, $600,000 worth of equipment!)

There is free access to the data. We also wish that other people would bring us their technical competence and to participate in the project. We think that by collaborating and pooling our competencies, this project will evolve.

We also encourage anyone who would like to launch a similar project in their region. The technical means for such a project are extremely variable. A little bit of savings and a bit of motivation is sufficient in general to start a good surveillance project. We put online several plans and diagrams that could help you install your own system. If we can help you set-up your project, of course we will. Please do not hesitate to contact us by email or by dropping in our forum.

The current system

There are currently (summer 2008) two automated station projects. The AMS that we call AMS V1 is the first version of the AMS.


Diagram that summarizes the system that regulates the operation of the AMS V1 station.

It was designed to be electrically autonomous. It operates during the night on batteries which have been recharged during the day by solar panels. We chose to film only at night for several reasons. The unexplained aerial phenomena seem to occur more frequently at night. In addition air traffic is less dense at night than during the day which eliminates many false alerts. But the essential reason for this choice to film only a night, is due to technological constraints of the AMS V1. Indeed the station must be entirely autonomous onsite and this on the average of eight hours per night. This operation at night supposes that the batteries are sufficiently charged to last the night. The detection system starts up a night/day timer which automatically activates the computer system once night has fallen. At dawn the same cell gives the opposite command so that everything is turned off in order to save energy.

This AMS is operational (except during maintenance). The videos that are online since 2007 come from this AMS.

We are currently setting up AMS V2 which will also be powered by solar energy. We will keep you informed when the setup is effective (the installation is planned for the Saint-Barnabé plateau, two minutes from the Col de Vence.

After the AMS V2 is functioning, the AMS V1 will be modified to change over to a 220V power supply. It will be a sort of trial AMS for AMS V2 and will be comprised of more sensors.

It will therefore be able to operate during the day because it will no longer depend on energy constraints.

The interior of the "220v" AMS V1 which is being developed.