Helicopter drones to combat the scourge of pirates

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The earth itself is covered with nearly 70% of water, so it makes perfect sense that if one were to regulate the seven seas, but that task is a monumental one, and it definitely cannot be achieved through sheer manpower alone, as that would cost far too much money as well as being inefficient. Employing the help of technology will definitely help, and in the case of the US Navy, they are using helicopter drones in order to hunt down modern-day pirates.

These helicopter drones are also known as Fire Scouts, and this time around, the US Navy has upgraded them to include electronic “brains” which are able to automatically recognize small pirate boats that are spotted through 3D laser imaging. I sure as heck hope that the positive identification level is high and accurate enough so as not to raise false alarms all too frequently.

Just how will the Fire Scout drones work? For starters, they would bounce millions of laser pulses off distant objects in order to create a 3D “radar” image of any boats on the high seas, thanks to a technology known as LIDAR or LADAR. This new software can then compare the 3D images to pirate boat profiles on record, and this summer will be when the initial litmus test is performed off the California coast with seven small boats. I wonder when the pirates catch on to the use of this technology, will they use extremely common boats to pass them off as a pirate boat?

According to Ken Heeke, program officer in the Office of Naval Research’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, “The automatic target recognition software gives Fire Scout the ability to distinguish target boats in congested coastal waters using LADAR, and it sends that information to human operators, who can then analyze those vessels in a 3-D picture.”

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One review or comment

Neagle Says: April 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

I’m all for protecting ships from opportunistic marauders but, the investment of such technology does not solve the underline issue of government sanctioned poverty that envelops the nations that encourage it’s citizens to act in criminal activity. I see this more as a testing grounds for domestic law enforcement use and abuse. Just like a maned helicopter this technology can be used as and effective tool but, also as a privacy violator on a grand scale. As the cost of these drones go down will the FAA issue a new class of license for remote pilots?

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