Philip Smart | Adelaide

Melbourne based computer vision technology specialist Sentient has delivered the first of its “Kestrel” automated detection software to the US Navy for use in the mission control system of the Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout rotary wing Unmanned Aerial System.

The MQ-8 is a shipborne unmanned helicopter that uses on-board sensors to capture full-motion video, identify targets and distribute information.

It provides US Navy ships with reconnaissance, situational awareness and aerial fire and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.

The MQ-8C is based on the Bell 407 helicopter airframe.

The Sentient Kestrel software uses pixel-level analysis of the digital feed from the electro-optical and infra-red sensors on the Fire Scout to detect small objects such as vehicles and people moving on land, or boats, rubber rafts and people overboard at sea.

By highlighting the objects automatically on screen it helps sensor operators detect and classify distant targets more quickly and minimises the chance of an operator missing a target of interest on long missions or in challenging environments.

Sentient’s Kestrel system has already seen service on Royal Australian Air Force P-3 Orion aircraft and the Insitu ScanEagle UAV, and will be aboard the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Challenger 604 search and rescue aircraft when they enter service in 2016.

“Kestrel has been recognized by a growing number of agencies and operators as the Gold Standard in ISR video analytics,” said Tom Bleier, Sentient’s Director of Business Development.

“With well over 15,000 hours of operational in-theatre experience on both manned and un-manned ISR platforms, Sentient has optimised the Kestrel software to perform effectively in the most challenging conditions.“

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