US Army tests 1.8-gigapixel camera helicopter drone


All right, the Iranians might have shot down one of those drones from the US, but we are quite sure the US Army is already light years ahead in terms of technology as well as next generation drones. In fact, the US Army recently tested a helicopter drone that would make for the perfect spy machine – especially when it sports a 1.8-gigapixel camera on it. This drone aircraft is capable of hovering around, and will not require a runway in order to take-off or land, now how about that?

This particular technology employed promised “an unprecedented capability to track and monitor activity on the ground”, where another three of these sensor-equipped drones are on track to see action in Afghanistan in either May or June next year. While Boeing was first off the blocks in building these drones, other firms are still able to throw in their bid to manufacture the rest. It will take a year of deployment in order to learn all that they can about the drone, its capabilities and limitations, resulting in a record compilation that will pave the way for a superior model down the road.

Also known as the A160 Hummingbird, this particular drone needs not a runway since it can take off vertically, and the hovering capability might see it in the battlefield far more frequent than existing UAVs. Test flights are set to commence in the Arizona desert at the beginning of 2011, before they make their way to the Middle East before the year is over. Relying on the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System, also known as Argus-IS for short as a tribute to Argus Panoptes – the one-hundred-eyed-giant of Greek mythology. At present, the 1.8-gigapixel camera which sees action is touted to be the largest video sensor used in tactical missions.

Having said that, it boasts wider fields of view than ever before, which equals to 900 times the resolution of a 2-megapixel camera that you find on older handsets. It does not only do image stills, but videos as well, delivering real-time video streams at the rate of 10 frames a second. It is said that with this kind of technology, the military is capable of tracking people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet (6.1km) across nearly 65 square miles (168 sq km).


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