Four companies to design software-reconfigurable, multifunction imaging sensors

Military researchers are working with four U.S. defense contractors to develop software-reconfigurable, multifunction imaging sensors with simultaneous and distinct imaging modes in different regions of the sensor array to provide capabilities that previously required several different sensors.

Jul 26th, 2017
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ARLINGTON, Va. - Military researchers are working with four U.S. defense contractors to develop software-reconfigurable, multifunction imaging sensors with simultaneous and distinct imaging modes in different regions of the sensor array to provide capabilities that previously required several different sensors.

U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) officials in Arlington, Va., have awarded contracts to DRS Network & Imaging Systems in Melbourne, Fla.; Voxtel Inc. in Beaverton, Ore.; BAE Systems Electronic Systems in Merrimack, N.H.; and Lockheed Martin Corp. Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla., for the Reconfigurable Imaging (ReImagine) program.

ReImagine seeks to develop a software-reconfigurable, multimode imaging system with functions not normally accessible within one focal plane array: configurable regions-of-interest that not only operate independently of other regions of the array, but also that reconfigure the array's measurements in response to the scene.

This artist's rendering depicts an imaging sensor simultaneously operating in three potential ReImagine modes: 3D-mapping at the lower left, vehicle detection and tracking, and thermal scanning for industrial activity - in different regions of the same field of view.

The idea is to develop an imaging focal plane array that can adapt to different conditions and operating modes to collect the most valuable information in the scene. The focal plane array on the ReImagine imaging sensor would function similarly to a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) processor by using several modes of imaging that may be defined after the array has been designed.

Lockheed Martin won a potential $10.2 million ReImagine contract; DRS won a potential $10.1 million contract; BAE Systems won a potential $7.5 million contract; and Voxtel won a potential $5.2 million contract.

These contractors also will try to develop algorithms that learn to collect the most valuable information when the sensor can be configured for a variety of measurements. Three-dimensional (3D) integration may enable the ReImagine sensor to interface with virtually any type of imaging sensor, such as photodiode, photoconductor, avalanche photodiode, or bolometer.

Reconfigurable capability also could enable users to optimize this imaging sensor for any spectral band, such as ultraviolet (UV) through very long-wave infrared (VLWIR). Separate regions of the focal plane array could run separately at high resolution, or at a high frame rate. In this way, the sensor could perform real-time analysis on much more complex scenes than traditional systems to produce more actionable information to the warfighter than ever has been possible from a single imaging sensor.

An imaging system that autonomously extracts the most relevant information with one sensor, and based only on the context in the scene, would revolutionize a wide variety of military and commercial applications, experts say. A software-configurable array that enables simultaneous and distinct imaging modes in different regions of interest might be able to do this.

The ReImagine program has three technical areas. The first technical area seeks to design a single-color or multicolor passive camera that works in spectral bands ranging from ultraviolet to very long-wave infrared. The second technical area seeks to design a hybrid active/passive imager architecture, where passive mode is based on traditional intensity measurements across an image array, and active mode is based on time-of-flight measurements for 3D range information. The third technical area seeks to develop adaptive algorithms for reconfigurable imaging systems.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit DRS Network & Imaging Systems online at http://bit.ly/2tSlrdT; Voxtel at http://voxtel-inc.com; BAE Systems Electronic Systems at www.baesystems.com; and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control at www.lockheedmartin.com/us/mfc.html.

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