Panoramic cameras offer true real-time, 360-degree coverage of the surrounding area, valuable for a variety of defense and security applications, including force protection, asset protection, asset control, security including port security, perimeter security, video surveillance, border control, airport security, coastguard operations, search and rescue, intrusion detection, and many others.
Automatic detection, location, and tracking of targets outside protected area ensures maximum protection and at the same time reduces the workload on personnel, increases reliability and confidence of target detection, and enables both man-in-the-loop and fully automated system operation. Thermal imaging provides the benefits of all-weather, 24-hour day/night operation with no downtime. In addition, thermal signatures of different target types facilitate better classification, beyond the limits set by camera's spatial resolution.
The useful range of catadioptric panoramic cameras is affected by their limited resolution. In many existing systems the resolution is optics-limited. Reflectors customarily used in catadioptric imagers introduce aberrations that may become significant at large camera apertures, such as required in low-light and thermal imaging.
Advantages of panoramic imagers with high image resolution include increased area coverage with fewer cameras, instantaneous full horizon detection, location and tracking of multiple targets simultaneously, extended range, and others.
The Automatic Panoramic Thermal Integrated Sensor (APTIS), being jointly developed by Applied Science Innovative, Inc. (ASI) and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) combines the strengths of improved, high-resolution panoramic optics with thermal imaging in the 8 - 14 micron spectral range, leveraged by intelligent video processing for automated detection, location, and tracking of moving targets. The work in progress supports the Future Combat Systems (FCS) and the Intelligent Munitions Systems (IMS).
The APTIS is anticipated to operate as an intelligent node in a wireless network of multifunctional nodes that work together to serve in a wide range of applications of homeland security, as well as serve the Army in tasks of improved situational awareness (SA) in defense and offensive operations, and as a sensor node in tactical Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR).
The novel ViperViewTM high-resolution panoramic thermal imager is the heart of the APTIS system. It features an aberration-corrected omnidirectional imager with small optics designed to match the resolution of a 640x480 pixels IR camera with improved image quality for longer range target detection, classification, and tracking. The same approach is applicable to panoramic cameras working in the visible spectral range. Other components of the ATPIS system include network communications, advanced power management, and wakeup capability. Recent developments include image processing, optical design being expanded into the visible spectral range, and wireless communications design. This paper describes the development status of the APTIS system.