By Doug Beizer
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, November 12, 2007
BAE Systems of Rockville will develop an aircraft mounted surveillance system capable of monitoring at least 10 times more area than existing technology.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded the company a 30-month, $18.5 million contract to develop what will be known as the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, or ARGUS-IS.
One of the goals of the project is to design a system capable of distinguishing objects on the ground such as people and cars, said John Antoniades, director of remote sensing technologies for BAE Systems.
Rather than sending raw data to a ground station, as is often done now, the imaging system will do real-time processing onboard the aircraft. The processed data will be transmitted via a high-speed data link to a ground station capable of distributing video.
The high-resolution sensor is designed to provide surveillance over tens of square miles, which is about 20 times more pixels than most existing systems.
Part of its job is to extend current capabilities. Existing systems can only monitor smaller areas, and current systems don't have the same level of onboard processing. The proposed airborne processor would be able to simultaneously and continuously detect and track the presence and motion of thousands of targets, large and small.
"ARGUS-IS looks like as if you had 60 to 100 Predator [aircraft] looking at a certain area all at once," Antoniades said. "So a single platform can do all that."
ARGUS-IS is based on existing technologies. The biggest challenge the project faces is handling the amount of data the system will produce, which will be many gigabytes per second.
"So there's a lot of processing done to compress and extract the information, because the raw data is almost impossible to deal with," Antoniades said.
The technology can be used in any situation where persistent surveillance is required. The systems are targeted for use in military unmanned and manned surveillance aircraft.
The system marks a large increase over existing capabilities, Antoniades said.
"It is extending technology quite a bit," he said. "It's something that looks like it can be done and will be done."
BAE Systems, which has about 52,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of more than $14 billion, is the U.S. subsidiary of BAE Systems of Farnborough, England.
Doug Beizer is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For news on this and other contracts, go tohttp://www.washingtontechnology.com.