ARGUS-IS watches you from above with 368 phone camera sensors
Currently, UAVs like the Predator drone are limited by grainy, low-resolution cameras with a fairly narrow field of view, especially when they are acquiring targets. The latest drone surveillance system, however, can produce 1.8-gigapixel video with such fine detail that it can track the all the activity in a “medium-size” city.
Um...the reality of how good this next generation of cameras is is both scary and really cool at the same time.
BAE systems recently pulled the wraps off of its new surveillance system for airborne drones known as the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (or ARGUS-IS) on a recent episode of the PBS show Nova. In the episode, the BAE researchers were allowed to show the unclassified parts of the surveillance array—which consists of 368 five-megapixel sensors—in action.
According to the researchers ARGUS can survey a 15 square-mile area while spotting objects as small as six inches around from heights of 17,500 feet. On top of recording 1 million terabytes of footage a day (!), ARGUS monitors the activity down below by tracking every person and car in its field of view.
We don't know if ARGUS-IS is deployed in the field right now— there's a lot of classified information about the system, as you might expect. What we do know is that an all-seeing eye like Sauron or Odin actually exists today, and it works for the government. Just don’t look up.
You can find out more about the ARGUS-IS and other drones in in the full episode of the PBS Nova special "Rise of the Drones.”