Feeds

UK's Watchkeeper drone 'can see footprints through cloud'

Also 'keep off the grass' signs, apparently

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Farnborough UK military robot spyplanes due to be fielded in Afghanistan within two years are fitted with radar so sensitive, according to its makers, that it can detect not only individual people moving about on the ground - but even the footprints they leave in the dirt.

The Watchkeeper in Israel, where most of the tests thus far have taken place. Credit: Thales

Now with footprint-following mode.

The spyplane in question is the (in)famous Watchkeeper now under development by Thales UK for the Royal Artillery's surveillance-drone units. Watchkeeper is a modified version of the Israeli Hermes 450 with added French and British bits and pieces. For now the British army are using ordinary Hermes 450s leased via Thales in Afghanistan, the embarrassing "Phoenix" drone having been deep-sixed without regret in 2008.

Watchkeeper actually made its first flight in 2008, but didn't enter British skies until this year. Thales flying spyrobot chief Nick Miller, briefing reporters at the Farnborough airshow today, said that Watchkeepers will start being handed to the MoD next year and following government testing will begin to replace Hermes 450s in Afghanistan gradually.

Major Matt Moore of the Royal Artillery also gave a rundown on Hermes 450 operations at the moment in Iraq, showing how the aerial spy drones can often finger gunmen and bomb-planters before they act - either warning nearby Coalition ground forces of danger, or calling in a strike from armed aircraft.

One airborne spy-robot buzzword du jour at the moment seems to be "pattern of life" - in which soldiers operating airborne spyeyes become familiar with ordinary activity around villages etc, so that oddities such as groups of people on the move at night are easily picked out for further investigation.

Another is "ISTAR* Soak", where an area of interest is saturated with constant spyeye coverage for a period - a good way to learn about pattern of life, and the only way for "drinking straw" sensors like the Hermes' electro-optical camera to have much chance of finding enemies without being given a clue where they are first.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.