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Prototype UAV tested at Northern Edge

by Marine Sgt. Rocky Smith
Northern Edge 2008 Public Affairs

5/14/2008 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (AFPN) -- Thanks to technology advances in small, unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, servicemembers on the ground may be able to get an inside track on what lies ahead, literally.

The Air Force Research Laboratory tested the Arcturus unmanned aerial vehhicle prototype May 7 at Northern Edge 2008 in the Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

The significant fact with this launch and testing is the new ability to follow movement on the ground, recognize changes on the landscape, and work autonomously, officials said.

"We've done complete tracking of target vehicles where the aircraft is controlled by the tracking algorithm, we don't have to do any man-in-the-loop intervention," said Capt. Samuel Hart, the unmanned services program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory. "We tell it to track the vehicle and it auto-tracks and follows it around corners, turns, behind trees and things like that."

The main goal is to capture real-time images whether it be live video or snapshots and take those for targeting, tracking and geolocation, said the captain.

"They can also use it for battle damage assessment, if there is a bomb drop," he said. "we can go back and see what kind of effect it had, if they were on target or if they missed."

The new technology will give servicemembers a bird's eye view of the battle space.

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