DARPA calls for 'DUDE' combo infra-nightscope
As in 'Dude, where's my multispectral imaging device?'
DARPA, the renowned bulgy-bonced battle-boffinry bureau (apparent motto: "If you can't beat them... well, some sort of murderous killer robot army would seem to be in order") has just issued its latest call for notions. This time, the Pentagon science chiefs want a new and ultra-puissant combo nightsight module.
This is because of the bewildering array of optics that well-equipped American troops nowadays find attached to their personal weapons (many of these things having been previously invented by DARPA). A fashionable combat soldier - or even a policeman, often enough - is these days offered a veritable panoply of shinies to fix alongside his gunbarrel.
There are "light intensifier" or starlight scopes, now many generations advanced from the early versions. These can pick up near-infrared light, which is fairly abundant at night compared to the visible wavelengths - outdoors, at least.
Then there are "thermal imagers", too, able to see longer-wavelength infrared which is given off by warm objects as opposed to super-hot ones such as stars, lightbulb filaments etc. Thermal imagers can see human bodies, hot vehicle engines and so on by their own emitted glow, rather than by light reflected off them as an eyeball or starlight scope does. Thermal imagers too have shrunk in size and complexity since they first appeared. (Older readers, like your correspondent, may recall the days when thermal imagers needed to be cooled to operate, and required top-ups of chiller gas as well as batteries.)
Then, quite apart from all this, there are ordinary visual aiming scopes often enough. These, like the other gunsights, need to have their aiming reticules "boresighted" - that is, accurately aligned with the gun barrel - every time they get attached to a weapon. (Movie scenes where people gaily snick aiming attachments on and off weapons and never bother to zero them on the range are strictly creative licence.)
Finally there are illuminators - gun lamps - giving out both visible and near-IR light. (You can also have a near-IR-only "black light"*, good for use with a starlight scope inside a building. It needn't involve anything more complex than an ordinary lamp with a filtering gel over the lens, to let through only the IR. In this way, enemies equipped only with eyeballs won't see your torchlight.)
At the moment, a soldier can use a long-wavelength thermal nightsight, or a near-IR starlight scope, or a visual scope for daylight conditions. But the thermal scope can't see gun-lamp illumination, and it can't see through glass* either. The starlight scope can't see body or engine heat, though the latest kinds are no longer crippled in daylight. The ordinary optical sight can't deal with darkness except by use of giveaway white light. Changing from one to another requires tiresome boresighting, or having an absurd number of appliances attached to one's weapon.
No more, say DARPA. The Pentagon boffins want a combo scope which can see by daylight, near-IR black light, and also view long-wavelength heat from people etc. The combo-scope would work with either white or black gun lighting, see through windows and everything - all in one. You wouldn't need to fiddle about changing systems and boresighting all the time.
In characteristic style, DARPA have called their proposed new superscope DUal-mode Detector Ensemble - DuDE. We say this is a poor effort, and would suggest instead Light and Emissions Exploitation Receiver (LEER). Or Panoptic Enhanced Espial Podule (PEEP). Or maybe Observation by Generalised Lighting Effects (OGLE). Really - "Dude-vision"? Come on.
You can read the full requirement from DARPA's Doctor Stu Horn here (pdf). ®
*Long-wavelength IR from normally-hot objects can't get through glass. Only the shorter waves from hotter things - the sun, lightbulbs - can do this. That's why cars get hot on sunny days; the sunbeams get in and warm up the seats etc, but not to the red-hot point where the emitted radiant heat could get out of the windows again.
This is also why a firefighter with a thermal-imaging camera can spot fires through a window, even in a smoke-filled building - the fires being very hot - but not the living human bodies he may actually be trying to find.
**Yes, we know "black light" normally means ultraviolet, not infrared. Just to mix things up even worse, the special-ops community sometimes use UV as well, and have been known to call that black light too. To be fair, it does all look black to the naked eye. No matter. When you're a man in black aboard a black helicopter doing black ops using black funds against the black hats, different kinds of black lighting are merely shades of grey.
Well, "killing people" lead to the creation of Computers. So if you have a problem with people like DARPA using military funds to create tech that should eventually filter down to you, stop using it.
You see, the great thing about Military weaponry is that the wider used it is in the Army, the more chance that it'll stop being secret- either someone will use the ideas gained for their own use (e.g. NOS in cars was derived from the RAF's "use of laughing gas to make their planes go faster"so after the war this was put to good use!) or they're just released to the public.
Other great inventions that owe their existance to war include Rocketry (hence Satellites AND dehydrated ice-cream, two great inventions), CDMA radios (frequency hopping, IIRC development helped by actress Heddy Lamaar), Transistors (push to tougher and smaller kit during WW2), and so on.
War gives people deep pockets. People with deep pockets want deeper, fuller pockets. So they give some of that funding to cleverer people than them who are employed to research new ways of making war faster- hence costing less and meaning the enemy burns through less of its value, leaving greater spoils of war.
Also, research organisations meant we got away from using things like Mustard Gas, which is a barbaric weapon.
Yes, peace would be great. But if everyone burnt their guns, a worldwide knifefight for superiority would ensue. It's just human nature.
Why should I have to look down the barrel of my weapon to know what I'm aiming at?
An IR "dot" on the front and rear gun sights would allow the headset to calculate what the weapon would hit without looking down the barrel and overlay a cross hairs into the image.
Headsets are an obvious choice, especially as it means I get the added benefit of walking around in the dark without having my weapon attached to my nose.
As per Craig Foster's suggestion a single lens with a prism would probably make sense - though as this EM is all at different wavelengths focusing it would be problematic. Cycling each source rapidly through some digital focusing mechanism and interpolating each frame together might be a solution.
yes. seems like i have to say this once again.
oh yes, how very typical. lets use every scientific advancement to invent better ways to kill more people more efficiently.
lets concentrate the our best minds and valuable resources for the single purpose of killing other people.
call it what you want, make any excuse or bogus reason. it does not change the fact that killing is killing.
what a fantastically good idea (sic), as per usual.
anyone out there understand what i'm telling you?
is there anyone out there that thinks killing is NOT a good use of our lives and resources?
just when i start thinking that we may have hope for a better future, i read shit like this, and the responses. oh what fun.