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BAE SYSTEMS Develops Hyperspectral Imaging Technology For Enhanced Target Detection

13 Sep 2005

Scientists at BAE Systems Advanced Technology System in Bristol are developing hyperspectral imaging to identify targets which are becoming increasingly difficult to detect due to sophisticated camouflage and concealment techniques.

While relatively simple camouflage may be highly effective against the human observer or conventional imaging systems, a hyperspectral camera is able to distinguish even subtle spectral differences between the camouflage and background

The hyperspectral imager used by BAE Systems can simultaneously record images of the scene in a large number of narrow spectral bands, to provide a detailed spectrum for every pixel of the image. Sophisticated data processing is then able to analyse this information to determine the exact nature of the objects present in the scene. The algorithms which BAE Systems has developed to perform this analysis are the key to the implementation. Excellent results can be obtained fairly routinely by downloading data for off-line analysis but the need is to be able to achieve this performance on-line in real time.

“This new imager is a huge advantage over conventional cameras which record only the overall intensity distribution across a scene and can provide little or no information as to that scene’s physical content,” said Roy Clarke from BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre. “In contrast, the hyperspectral imager provides almost an embarrassment of data – the trick is to decide what is important and to trade-off issues such as the acquisition time and spectral resolution.”

Although this technique has been used by remote sensing satellites to monitor the weather, sea-state and land use; BAE Systems has capitalised on the capabilities of the camera, the rapid development of computer technology, as well as its own algorithms and in-house expertise in using the system to develop a system/ product which is affordable and portable and has a wide range of applications throughout the military and civil sectors.

“Other applications of this technology include IFF, mine detection, biochemical agent detection and monitoring, medical applications, and counterfeit document detection” said Dr Clarke. ”Basically, any application which involves the characterisation of objects within an image has the potential to benefit from hyperspectral imaging”


BAE Systems is an international company engaged in the development, delivery, and support of advanced defence and aerospace systems in the air, on land, at sea, and in space. The Company designs, manufactures, and supports military aircraft, combat vehicles, surface ships, submarines, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, and guided weapon systems. It is a pioneer in technology with a heritage stretching back hundreds of years and is at the forefront of innovation, working to develop the next generation of intelligent defence systems. BAE Systems has major operations across five continents and customers in some 130 countries. The Company employs over 90,000 people and generates annual sales of approximately 14.8 billion through its wholly owned and joint-venture operations.

For further information, please contact:

Richard Coltart, BAE Systems
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 383074

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