A British firm has developed a hybrid periscope for armoured land vehicles that incorporates optical and digital image sources.
The system allows a driver to quickly and seamlessly switch from regular optical view to digital imaging when conditions change, for example, with smoke, dust, at night or when presented with hot objects — something not currently possible.
Kent Periscopes will supply its embedded image periscope alongside thermal-imaging technology from DRS Technologies UK to the MoD for an urgent operational requirement.
Currently, in CVR(T)s (combat vehicle reconnaissance ([tracked]), a periscope based on glass prisms allows the driver to view the outside world at 1:1 magnification with no powered optics.
Traditionally, the driver also has a second night-vision periscope, which is swapped when the light levels drop, based on image-intensifier technology (giving the characteristic greenish display).
‘The problem with most existing vehicles is that there is no room for the display, so, often the display is placed to the side of the driver — and the driver has to physically swap the periscope and thus compromise the vehicle and himself for a period of time — or it just cannot be fitted,’ Gary Owen, technical director at Kent Periscopes told The Engineer.
Also, image-intensifier technology has now been largely replaced by thermal imaging, which can see through smoke, dust and visualise the contrast between hot items and the rest of the scene.
‘The added advantage is that the thermal imaging is projected away from the user and therefore gives the impression that they are seeing something in the distance rather than using a conventional display, which is like reading a book. This results in much less eye strain and allows the user to switch between the two channels without having to refocus,’ Owen said.
The new system could also help improve situational awareness for the vehicle’s occupants by displaying images from other connected infrared, thermal or day cameras located around the exterior of the vehicle.