When time, lives or money are on the line, having airborne intelligence is crucial to a successful mission. Organizations need to be able to get in the air, collect video and quickly process that information to create real-time products that provide actionable data. For example, an operator in an aircraft needs to provide the ground crew with up-to-date information regarding the location of a fire line. Rather than calling out the location over a radio, live video can be processed and turned into maps to provide others with accurate information in a matter of minutes compared to hours.
Building an end-to-end ISR solution can be quite labor intensive. Traditionally, Part 135 Air Carrier Operators that wish to provide aerial video and imagery services have to assemble their own ISR solutions. This requires them to separately purchase the gimbal, mount, wiring, video encoder, power system, video recording system, and video and geospatial analysis software.
After purchasing all of the pieces, the operators must integrate the system (ie: wire it, test it, get stuck, troubleshoot it by speaking to 6 different vendors, etc). On top of that, they must figure out how to create the end products to fulfill their customer’s requirements for scenarios such as air attack for forest fire suppression, mapping, disaster relief, and inspections. This piecemeal approach to creating a solution wastes valuable time and resources that could be better used to prepare assets for the upcoming fire season or conduct search and rescue training scenarios.
Enter Ascent Vision Technologies
Ascent Vision Technologies, a manufacturer and distributor of best-in-class gimbal systems, approached us and proposed a collaboration to design, test, and deliver an innovative, integrated solution that simplifies the complexity of turning raw video from a sensor into geospatial products that customers need like 2D maps or enhanced video with improved visual detail and geospatial accuracy.
Tim Sheehy, Founder and CEO of Ascent Vision, visited our headquarters in Silicon Valley and brought along one of his company’s CM 160 gimbals. After we tested the basics like video streaming protocol compatibility, frame rate and metadata, Tim spoke with us about the challenges some of his customers face with air attack for forest fire suppression. Rough mountain terrain, smoke and haze, and spotty communications make it an extremely difficult environment for pilots and operators to work in.
Understanding these challenges, we worked together to pair Ascent Vision’s sensors with our real-time image processing software, Ikena ISR, to give customers a video collection and processing solution that has the same capabilities of larger sensor systems, but at half the cost.
Ascent Vision’s sensors collect high-quality EO and IR video and stream that data directly to Ikena ISR. Our software then processes the feed and creates products, in real time, that provide intelligence to analysts, operators and inspectors. Ikena ISR’s multi-algorithm image processing is tuned to Ascent Vision’s sensor, extending the effective range, while creating imagery and geospatial products on the fly such as seamless mosaics from full-motion video, allowing users to instantly generate geo-referenced 2D maps.
Together, our solution solves challenges found in a number of industries including forestry, law enforcement, public safety, energy, inspection services and more. Now that we’ve completed phase one of integrating our products, we’ve already started thinking through additional ways our systems can work together to streamline the workflow of airborne operators and video analysts. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue development with Ascent Vision.