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Army 'fusing' UAS Sensors

Mar 23, 2011

By Kris Osborn ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, March 23, 2011 -- The U.S. Army is testing prototypes of a new high-tech synchronization engine at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., which can combine video feeds and sensor data from multiple Unmanned Aircraft Systems on a single Ground Control Station, service officials said.

"We are opening a gateway to information that we have never done before. Today, you can't switch between from one stovepipe intelligence source to another that easily," said Tim Owings, deputy program manager, Army UAS.

The new system, called the Federated Universal Synchronization Engine, or FUSE, uses software and hardware to fuse a host of different intelligence sources on one viewing screen, including Ground Moving Target Indicator, Electro-Optical, Infrared and Synthetic Aperture Radar capabilities, Owings said.

"FUSE is about operator cueing - to get the operator better intelligence feeds so that he can find targets more rapidly. If you are a Shadow you don't have a moving target indicator. All you have is video. With FUSE - if you have a Gray Eagle in the same area with a SAR - you will now be able to see the GMTI on the Shadow GCS," Owings said.

FUSE will be particularly helpful when it comes to the "perishability" of certain fast-emerging targets because the fusing of sensor data from multiple sources will allow action to be taken more quickly in response to various combat scenarios, he explained.

"If you have information about a guy planting an IED - if you don't do something now the opportunity to disrupt that event is lost," Owings said.

The idea for FUSE emerged out of the findings from Army teams sent to Afghanistan to assess how UAS sensors can be used more effectively, he said.

"What we found was that there was a need to share information better, and we found there was no way for a UAS operator to technically fuse all of the different intel sources into an operational picture he could use," Owings explained.

Owings said the Army hopes to have FUSE ready for deployment in about one year.

(Kris Osborn writes for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.)

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