Monday, March 01, 2010

BAE Develops 1.8 Gigapixel Camera

Defense News: It appears there is a need for Giga-pixel resolution sensors in security applications:

"Today there are two kinds of surveillance sensors in use by the U.S. military: high resolution sensors that offer only a narrow field of view, and low resolution sensors that offer a wide view.

That creates a problem, as described in this DARPA scenario: A UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operator with a high resolution sensor watches as two suspects enter a building. But when they leave, they walk away in different directions.

Which one does the operator follow? His narrow-view sensor can't follow both, and a wide-view sensor isn't sharp-eyed enough to see either.

The ARGUS-IS - the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System - can spot and track "65-plus" targets simultaneously from altitudes higher than 20,000 feet, according to the sensor's inventor, BAE Systems. DARPA awarded BAE an $18.5M contract in late 2007 to build the ARGUS-IS.

Built around a 1.8-Gigapixel digital camera, ARGUS-IS has sharp-enough resolution to identify and track individual people from four miles up in the sky. It's housed in a 15-foot-long pod that's designed to be attached to the underside of a large UAV. During the February test flight, it was attached to the belly of a Black Hawk helicopter.

The camera is made up of 368 5MP video chips mounted in four separate cameras. The images from each camera then are merged into a single large, high-definition image.


  1. If these images are merged, then it must be HDR, not high def.

  2. I don't understand your logic. Could you elaborate?

  3. It seems like they are tiling images of different fields of view, not taking multiple pictures of a given field of view in order to do dynamic range extension.

    Based on the figures in the article - 368 by 5 Mpixel chips, 15 frames/second video, and "can handle 400 gigabits of data each second" - there are at most 14 bits per pixel raw when using all available pixels.

    It will be fun to see what the downstream hardware guys do when these sorts of specifications start to trickle into consumer electronics (e.g. 50 Mpixel, 20-bit, 60 fps for 60 Gbit/sec in your camcorder).

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  5. Great post. I will be adding it to where people can learn more about GigaPixel technology.

  6. Excellent post - I make GigaPixel cameras at home. In fact I supply related industries. Call me now to get one!


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