DARPA's 1.8-gigapixel camera can see you from 20,000 feet in the air

Attached to an unmanned drone, the powerful camera can spot a six-inch target from a height of 20,000 feet.

DARPA has released more information about its newest aerial surveillance tool, known as ARGUS-IS (Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System). The 1.8-gigapixel camera, when attached to an unmanned drone, can spot targets as small as six inches from an altitude of 20,000 feet.

The camera is one of the world's highest resolution systems, is able to visualize up to 10 square miles at once and has a remarkable zoom capacity. In this video segment from NOVA, which aired on PBS, the camera can spot humans - as well as birds in flight - from an incredible distance.

Made up of 368 5-megapixel sensors (similar to those found in your smartphone) aimed through a telescopic array, ARGUS can pull in 600GB of data per second, some of which is stored for later viewing. Since it would be infeasible to store all the data the device gathers, the Department of Defense built the Persistics system, which is intended to derive meaningful information from wide-area overhead surveillance video.

It appears to be a tremendous achievement in aerial surveillance, but as a government tool, the ARGUS nonetheless raises questions about the intended use of this technology - and the relationship between governments and their citizens.

Photo: YouTube screenshot

via [TechCrunch]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com