[LINK] Drone Flights Leave Military Awash in Data

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Thu Jan 14 11:54:54 AEDT 2010

stephen at melbpc.org.au wrote:
> ... Drone Flights Leave Military Awash in Data
> By CHRISTOPHER DREW Published: January 10, 2010 
> http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/11drone.html?th&emc=th ...

All the military need do is enrol in my course: "Electronic Data 
Management" (COMP7420) 
<http://studyat.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7420;details.html>. ;-)

It is not just the drones (called UAVs by the military) which are
causing problems, there are also conventional aircraft fitted with
sensors sending large streams of data. Aircraft with a crew on board can 
carry out some preliminary analysis and I suspect this is a technique 
which will also be adopted for the UAVs, with the initial analysis 
automated in that case.

Simply streaming all the data to the troops is not a solution, as they
do not have time to watch dozens of video feeds. Instead the aircraft 
will be able to automatically flag important areas in the images and 
detect items of interest. This is already being done for civilian 
purposes with traffic management. A small embedded computer in the 
traffic camera can identify cars, count them and measure their speed, 
alterting controllers when there is a traffic jam: 

This can help with the problem of bandwidth, where the military is short 
of satellite capacity to relay the signals from the UAVs. At present 
most UAVs are relatively dumb, sending the highest resolution video 
feed, even where there is nothing of interest. Instead they can send 
brief text messages about what is happening on the ground and high 
resolution images just of what is interesting, storing the remaining 
data on-board for download on request, or after landing.

Rather than the results looking like a TV news broadcast I suspect the
information will be overlaid on the standard military message and 
mapping formats, which are a bit like an RSS feed and Google Maps.

Reducing the bandwidth from UAVs is particuarly an issue for
Australia, with less access to satellites.

ps: There is a free seminar on building a smart drone at ANU, at 4pm. 
But be warned this is very technical: "A terrain-following strategy for 
a VTOL UAV using translational optical flow": 

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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