The US Defense Department has chosen Melbourne company Sentient Vision Systems for a Foreign Comparative Technology (FCT) evaluation of its ViDAR Maritime surveillance system for possible use by the US Marine Corps (USMC).
The USMC is looking to integrate ViDAR into a medium-altitude long range unmanned aerial system (MALE UAS) – likely its new MQ-9A Reaper platform – to gather intelligence and enhance situational awareness during amphibious operations.
Sentient Vision Systems Managing Director and founder Dr Paul Boxer said the FCT contract recognised that, to achieve battlefield Artificial Intelligence (AI) dominance, the US will have to work with allies who have unique resources to advance specific AI applications. “This project supports US and coalition warfighters by providing proven, trusted, advanced AI to bring enhanced accuracy and efficiency to complex and dangerous tasks,” he said.
ViDAR stands for Visual Detection And Ranging and is a means of processing imagery from an Electro-Optic or Infrared (EO/IR) sensor to detect objects invisible or nearly invisible to a human operator or to a conventional radar. That could be a human survivor in the water, a submarine periscope, or a stealthy watercraft. It does that by using AI and machine learning to detect persistent pixels in the imagery stream.
A ViDAR-equipped UAV or manned aircraft can deliver coverage of a search area up to 300 times greater than one without ViDAR. Sentient Vision said successful trials in the US were expected to lead to wider deployment within the USMC.