New Hyper-spectral Sensor Automatically Finds Targets over a Wide Area

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The US Army is fielding a new hyper-spectral sensor integrated into the Aurora electro-optical payload developed by BAE Systems. The company delivered the Army five target detection systems for use on the Shadow TUAV. The payload is fitted on a stabilized gimbal and is designed for operation by low- and medium altitude UAVs supporting payload capacity of about 35 kg.

Aurora combines imaging arrays and sensors based on BAE Systems’ Adaptive Spectral Processing and Identification System (ASPIS) to provide automated target recognition. ASPIS detects and identifies known or potential threats and then downlinks target imagery and other data to ground operators for rapid delivery into intelligence databases.

The new payload defined as ‘Generation IV’ remote sensing system comprises a daytime, high-resolution electro-optic hyper-spectral sensor supporting video-framing HDTV color / monochrome camera with a resolution of 6.6 Megapixels, coupled with a GPS/IMU sensors producing precise geolocation independent of ground control points. The sensor feeds an airborne processing system to automatically detect and identify targets over a wide-area. Target detection and identification is performed by analysing spectral and spatial anomalies. The system also supports movement detection employing optical moving target indicator. It also produces continuous, wide-area image mosaicking. Development of even more advanced algorithm and image processing continues under joint DARPA – Army funding.

“AURORA is the first system that puts hyperspectral technology in operational use for U.S. forces,” said John Antoniades, director of remote sensing technologies for BAE Systems. “This is important because the combination of hyperspectral and electro-optic technology offers an objective tool to detect and identify targets, relieving the stress on operators who are constantly watching video imagery.” BAE received the development contract in 2006.