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[] US Army und Marines planen Sensorennetz fürs Schlachtfeld,

Federal Computer Week

Getting the big picture

Remote sensor networks deliver comprehensive view of battlefield

BY Dan Caterinicchia 
Jan. 7, 2002

The Army and Marine Corps will soon have a 360-degree view of the
battlefield, giving them the ability to identify everything from tanks
to people, day or night, without having to put their troops in harm's

The OmniSense Visually Enhanced Tracking System (OVETS) will collect
thermal infrared video images captured by a network of sensors spread
across a region. The system ? which also includes acous.tic, seismic and
magnetic sensors ? will fuse the information to create a comprehensive
picture of the battlefield and deliver it to commanders who can use it
to detect, classify and track potential targets.

The military frequently uses sensors in the field, because they make it
possible to gather data without sending people into dangerous
environments, but sensors typically provide only spotty coverage. By
combining information from a network of sensors, commanders will have
the sweeping view they need.

The Army and Marine Corps had already specified a need for OVETS before
Sept. 11, and other agencies have since followed suit, said Thomas
McKenna, program officer in the Office of Naval Research. "As soon as
it's completed and the product is delivered, there are lots of people
who would like it," he said. "There's no shortage of applications." 

McQ Associates Inc., a Fredericksburg, Va.-based firm specializing in
remote surveillance, security and environmental monitoring products, is
developing the system under a Small Business Innovation Research
contract awarded by the secretary of Defense and managed by the Office
of Naval Research. The proj.ect is also receiving separate funding from
the Army for a mine-detection program. 

The Phase II contract, awarded in September 2001, is scheduled for
completion in one year, said Russell Thomas, advanced development
director for McQ Associates. However, he said the project might be
accelerated, at the government's request, if more funding becomes
available. The total cost at press time was $1.25 million.

McQ Associates is responsible for integrating the camera, communication
electronics, and sensor fusing and tracking, while RemoteReality Corp.,
a provider of omni-directional still and video imaging technology, is
providing the advanced optical system, including the rugged 360-degree

McQ Associates' OmniSense system is typically used to monitor activity
in remote areas and automatically report activities of interest to the
user. Applications include detecting vehicles or people moving along
roads or pathways and detecting aircraft operations in remote areas,
such as overflights or landings and takeoffs from rural fields.

Constant operator monitoring is not required because the system
automatically detects all activities and sends an alarm when a specified
activity occurs. Alarms can be sent via numerous means, including

"The ultimate sensor is video," Thomas said, "but the problem is getting
video to cover an entire area so you're sure you're going to catch a
target. Generally, you don't miss with video, but with 360-degree
[capability] and infrared for military and surveillanceÖit's the
ultimate sensor."

But OVETS' main mission is on the battlefield, providing remote sensing,
object tracking and situational awareness to soldiers, while keeping
them out of danger.

"The system will provide advanced situational awareness, including the
360-degree information back to the command post," said Hapet Berberian,
senior vice president of corporate development and government systems at
RemoteReality. "Battlefield information-gathering is quite pertinent to
today's mindset. It's an intelligent surveillance system that performs
the traditional function of a forward adviser in an unmanned fashion. It
reduces risks for military personnel."

The system's potential uses will expand as the technology improves,
Thomas said. "I suspect we will continue to see more development and
miniaturization of optics and development of the infrared camera
technology, making it smaller and [available] at a lower cost," Thomas

But McKenna just wants to get the project done and deployed in places
where it can add protection. "First, let's finish the project and
demonstrate it.... I'm sure facilities that are at risk around the world
will be asking for it." 


A bright outlook

Hapet Berberian, senior vice president of corporate development and
government systems at RemoteReality, said the technology being developed
for OVETS could be used for other intelligent monitoring applications,

* U.S. border patrols. 
* Search and rescue operations.
* Perimeter monitoring for embassies and nuclear facilities.
* Security systems for commercial and government buildings.
* Environmental tracking of animals.

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