US Navy Helicopter Drones to Identify Sea Pirates; Thanks to MMSS Tech

April 10, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Identifying a pirate vessel correctly before opening fire is a tough task for naval forces. Since pirates don’t fly their infamous flag or cover one of their eyes like their movie counterparts do, the job gets even more difficult.

The task turns almost impossible close to shore, when pirates hide their vessels among usual fishing boats. Incidents of firing on fishing vessels, mistaking them for pirates, are common now.

To overcome this issue, the US Navy is planning to deploy robot helicopters which can successfully identify pirate vessels, even when they are among other boats or on a crowded sea lane.

It makes things easier, because otherwise navy personnel had to watch hours of surveillance footage to make sure the vessels identify before sending troops.

The new surveillance mechanism, dubbed as Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker (MMSS), can help a drone helicopter which is send for surveillance to identify the vessel with the help of high-definition cameras, infra red rays of mid-wave frequency and the laser-radar (LADAR) technology.

The asset with the new system is that the software can help the helicopter to identify the vessel in the absence of a human operator. It can compile the data into a 3 D image and compare it with the schematics and templates in the memory to carry out the identification.

Usually soldiers manually compare an infrared image with a group of known silhouettes. It was a harder game, since a boat can be photographed at different angles, making the comparison less likely to provide accurate results.

The system has been found working successfully on shore-based surveillance systems. Navy will test it on a drone helicopter to identify a specific vessel among a group of 7 boats in the military sea range in California in summer to confirm its use for aerial surveillance.

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