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For the first time, it was demonstrated that a tactical UAV with ViDAR (Visual Detection And Ranging) optical radar system can search vast expanses of ocean and autonomously detect very small targets at large ranges, claims Australian sensor video analytics provider Sentient Vision. ViDAR gives tactical UAVs the ability to cover up to 80 times more ocean in a single sortie than the same UAV equipped with existing EO/IR systems.

The small footprint and compact size that make ViDAR ideal for unmanned vehicles also provide a payload-friendly, cost-effective solution, easily integrated with existing airframes and compatible with most commercially available sensors. ViDAR can be configured and adapted for missions such as search and rescue, counter-narcotics, counter-piracy and illegal fishing.

It is a light, compact self-contained unit comprising a forward facing high-resolution digital video camera that pans through 180 degrees, and software that analyses the resulting image feed to detect objects against an ocean background. The system autonomously detects, tracks and photographs objects, transmitting the image in real time to an airborne sensor console or laptop ground station where operators can then cross-cue the aerial platform’s primary electro-optical sensor to the contact by simply clicking on the image, according to

The company said they have now demonstrated that ViDAR can provide a detection capability for the ScanEagle, for an autonomous detection of targets in the ocean in real time.

The podded ViDAR system is lightweight and compact for easy mounting on helicopters and virtually any fixed-wing aircraft.