‘Super’ Camera Puts Human Eye to Shame
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Duke University recently tested a camera that can read street signs and license plates from more than 270 yards away.
Developed under DARPA’s Advanced Wide Field of View Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation (AWARE) program, the prototype is a 1-gigapixel imager made up of about 100 micro-cameras. But engineers already have published another design that improves upon it.
The 50-gigapixel camera that DARPA has in mind would be 2,000 times more powerful than current digital technology and would be able to see a vehicle’s tag number from nearly a mile away. Until that system is developed, researchers are building a 10-gigapixel camera that will be able to make out a license plate from more than 540 yards away, said David Brady, who leads Duke’s imaging and spectroscopy program.
DARPA officials compared the concept behind gigapixel-class cameras to that of a supercomputer, which centralizes the power of multiple processors. They are being pursued to give troops greater resolution in smaller sensor packages. New powerful cameras will help them see far-away targets in all kinds of weather, day or night, officials said. They will be made light enough to fit on a variety of ground and air platforms, including small drones.
The plan is for the first AWARE systems to be deployed on the ground, where they could be put to use with riflescopes.