Military to test advanced sensor

Military to test advanced sensor

The Defense Department is funding development of an advanced battlefield surveillance system for the Army and Marine Corps.

Four prototypes will be field-tested and possibly commercialized, said Hapet Berberian, senior vice president of government systems for RemoteReality Corp. of Westborough, Mass., which will do the work along with McQ Associates Inc. of Fredericksburg, Va.

Their OmniSense Visually Enhanced Tracking System will report activities from advanced battlefield positions via 360-degree visual, infrared, audio and seismic sensors.

The results of the $750,000 development contract should be ready for demonstration by fall, said Thomas McKenna, program officer in the Office of Naval Research, which is managing the contract.

What's ahead and behind

RemoteReality also is developing an omnidirectional periscope for Navy submarines [GCN, June 18, 2001, Page 36]. It uses cameras with a pair of parabolic lenses, one to capture a donut-shaped, 360-degree image and one to flatten it out in a panoramic strip.

The OmniSense system will add ruggedized sensors, including McQ's seismic sensor to detect vibrations. It will be embedded in a network to provide advance battlefield and perimeter security. Intelligence to analyze the data will reside at the back end, probably at command headquarters.

Most of the technology exists now, Berberian said. The most significant new piece will be a data-fusion server to analyze output.

The periscope program grew up partly in response to the terrorist bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in 2000 and the collision last year of the submarine USS Greenville with a Japanese fishing ship.

'After the Cole incident, we proposed using the cameras for protecting ships and supporting the Marine Corps in urban operations,' McKenna said. 'This is a fieldable version.'

Berberian said civilian government and commercial applications will come out of the work.

'Everybody has bets on how much one of these is going to cost,' Berberian said. His best estimate now is $75,000 to $100,000 per system, or less if mass-produced.

About the Author

William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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