Melbourne-based Sentient Vision Systems has won a $2.1 million Australian government grant to establish an in-house manufacturing facility for its ViDAR search and surveillance pods.
The grant was awarded under the Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources’ (DISER) Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) Translation Stream, and will enable volume manufacture in Australia of ViDAR pods for Australian and export customers.
“Winning this grant is an important step for Sentient Vision Systems,” Sentient’s Managing Director and founder, Dr Paul Boxer said in a 22 April release. “We’ve been developing software-based AI (artificial intelligence) surveillance systems for nearly two decades.
“We’ll soon be able to manufacture our own hardware in larger quantities as well whilst maintaining control over their quality and supply for critical surveillance and safety missions,” he added.
ViDAR – short for Visual Detection And Ranging – is touted by Sentient as the world’s first passive optical radar. It is mounted in crewed and uncrewed aircraft and uses AI to scan every pixel in every frame of an optical sensor’s imagery feed to detect objects invisible to a human operator, at sea or over land.
The ViDAR VMS pod was launched in 2021 to provide complete integrated pod systems for rapid fitment to a wide range of aircraft, and for easy integration with the aircraft’s MMS. At present, the company hand-builds pods in Australia and with partners in Canada and Europe.
When it detects an object the ViDAR software places a thumbnail on the Mission Management System (MMS) screen so the operator can examine it in detail. ViDAR is used for Search and Rescue (SAR), wide area surveillance, border security, and law enforcement by customers worldwide, including the US Coast Guard, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), and many other allied organisations and agencies.