January 31, 2013
A new NOVA special, “Rise of the Drones,” features the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, or ARGUS-IS. The sensor uses 368 imaging chips similar to those found in cell phones to capture separate videos and piece them together to form a 1.8 billion pixel video. This means that the surveillance drone can capture images of birds flying, people walking on streets and cars traveling — all from 17,500 feet above the earth.
“Actually seeing the sensor on ARGUS-IS… is still classified, but the basics of how it works have been deemed fit for public consumption,” explains Popular Science (the post includes the 5-minute video segment). The world’s highest resolution camera, “it can see a bird flying through a parking lot from more than three miles in the air.”
ARGUS-IS designer Yiannis Antoniades explains that his device can store 5,000 hours of footage a day, or a million terabytes of high definition video. When showing off the display, Antoniades demonstrates how colored boxes track moving objects like people and cars.
Antoniades can click on any part of his screen to open a new zoomed-in window. This allows him to isolate areas while also keeping a larger perspective. He can open up to 65 windows at a time.
While Antoniades cannot say if the ARGUS-IS has been deployed in the field, NOVA suggests it could be used for armed predator drones. NOVA also says it could become part of a developing project known as Solar Eagle, which would sit in the sky for years at a time.