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Innovation

U.S. military looks to NFL broadcasters for tricks to highlight drone targets

The U.S. military has so many drones collecting video intelligence from the battlefield that the data is overwhelming its analysts. A little help from professional football will soon change that.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

The U.S. military has so many Predator and Reaper drones collecting video intelligence from the battlefield that the data is overwhelming its analysts.

With a little help from professional football, that will soon change.

To quickly identify and transmit highlights of important drone targets, the U.S. Air Force is turning to the networks that broadcast National League Football games for technical tricks to help sift through all that data, reports the New York Times.

Taking cues from the production and software techniques that help broadcast networks highlight NFL players and plays during a live-action football game, the Air Force is in the process of installing a $500 million computer system that will help its analysts automatically produce highlight reels, text and graphics to be sent as alerts.

The Air Force has also installed "telestrators" -- the television illustrators used by broadcasters to draw lines, arrows, X's and O's on replay clips -- on some of its handheld video receivers to help officers quickly indicate which vehicles or people a drone should train its eye on.

According to the Times, military analysts spent time inside the broadcast vans parked outside football stadiums to see how producers tagged players to call up highlight reels on the fly.

For now, the military has yet to find software that can automatically scan for vehicles or armed men among civilians -- leaving a soldier's gut an important element in discerning danger.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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