US military personnel may soon have another weapon in their arsenal in the form of LOTS, an omnidirectional tracking system under development at Lehigh University.
Terrance Boult is developing the Lehigh Omnidirectional Tracking System, which, when operational, will enable troops to locate and track remote enemy soldiers attempting to infiltrate US positions.
Boult said LOTS is built around a specially developed camera that has a 360-degree field of view and unique software that can track moving targets and remove the distortion of the omnidirectional camera.
By using LOTS, commanders can easily watch large areas and discern the action from images that are fed to a monitor.
Previous remote tracking devices have used traditional video cameras to scan back and forth across a landscape. But this allows infiltrators to move around without being detected when the lens is focused elsewhere.
LOTS, however, is said to provide the US military with constant, uninterrupted surveillance in all directions. If anything moves, camera and software immediately detect the movement and feed the information back to a command centre.
‘Our camera doesn’t have to move so we can develop a model of every part of the viewing area,’ Boult said. ‘When someone wearing camouflage moves into that area and the motion is not expected, the system picks it up.’
LOTS is designed to operate continuously, but video will be accessed only on command.
Most versions of the system will display a continuously updated map of the area under surveillance. The software is programmed so that the instant a figure is detected, LOTS identifies it with an icon that appears on the map to alert viewers with a monitor that an enemy is present.
If commanders wish to analyse the icon they can access video images that isolate the intruder in a box. Confidence that there is a target is encoded via colours, and images of significant targets are saved for later analysis.
LOTS has been tested by the US Army at Fort Benning in Georgia. ‘The army owns five of our systems and they have placed them in the field for trials to determine if a soldier can sneak through the surveillance,’ said Boult.
The US Navy is also interested in LOTS for possible use aboard submarines, said Boult.
Submarine commanders envision a system attached to a periscope that would enable them to maintain a constant watch on the horizon up to 10 kilometres away in any direction.