Orlando, FL-The primary focus at this week's annual AeroSense
meeting here is the ongoing War on Terrorism. Sponsored by the optical
engineering society SPIE, the gathering brings together those involved in
aerospace and defense sensors, simulation, and controls--with applications
including robotics, and imaging and vision systems.
In a keynote speech titled "Development of sensors and C(3)I technologies for
homeland defense and law enforcement: a DARPA perspective," Defense Advanced
Research Project Agency Director Antony Tether highlighted developments the
agency is looking to put on the table for various government organizations.
(C(3)I refers to command, control, communications, and intelligence.) He
particularly noted a list of what he sees as potential future breakthroughs.
These seven are:
* Defeating terrorist networks
* Precisely detect, track, and destroy
* Characterization of underground structures
* Assured use
* Cognitive computer systems
* Bio revolution
manned and unmanned attack operations
Cognitive computing will result in "computers that remember experiences,"
Tether noted. As for bio revolution, that involves allowing "you to be all you
can be" via medical developments, he added--saying some of his developers
report, "We can do things Olympic judges couldn't detect."
Specific programs include electronic tagging of drug shipments, triggered by
airborne radar scanning. A counter-sniper system under development will
potentially use lasers and infrared imaging to pinpoint within a half second
(less than a bullet's flight time) the shooter's position as well as the
Technology breakthroughs will allow what Tether called a "network-centric
approach" to airport security. Networks will take advantage of the time people
spend in an airport, yet keep the passenger flow going without any specific
bottlenecks, unlike today's single checkpoint security. While such a checkpoint
will still likely be in place, developments such as face recognition at longer
ranges than possible today will be added to security tools. He noted another
development being looked at is anxiety and deception detection, which keys on
sensing skin proteins, voice stress levels, and involuntary facial feature
Tether added that, with 20/20 hindsight, the proper computer technology for
threat indication and warning could have predicted the September 11 attacks. By
collecting, detecting, and tracking information, and coordinating distributed
databases, such as travel agency and credit card data records, anomalous events
could be discerned.
DARPA's charge is to take technologies from the fundamental research stage of
development and "mature" them to where government services and organizations can
bring them into production and use. The agency focuses on potential high payoff
areas--which have included the first Saturn rocket, the Stealth fighter, and the
soldier's M-16. Tether noted that in the past the military was focused on
outland operations and law enforcement agencies on civil protection. The War on
Terrorism sees both communities' purposes coming together, where he said the
issue is how to counter terrorism but still maintain privacy rights.