Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) scientists are developing new optical sensors for use in unmanned air vehicles and surveillance drones that could track suspects that have been identified as a threat. RIT professor John Kerekes was awarded a $1 million Discovery Challenge Thrust grant by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to design sensors that use multiple techniques to track an individual or vehicle. The sensor will collect necessary data, assess the situation and choose the best sensing mode. The sensor creates two strands of information, one of the target and one of the background environment, to maintain a connection and negate any camouflage effects. The sensor collects a black-and-white image of a target to record the shape and uses hyperspectral imaging to plot the object's color as it appears in multiple wavelengths. The hyperspectral mode can lock onto the unique material properties of a target object. "These are all complementary pieces of information and the idea is that if the object you are tracking goes into an area where you lose one piece of information, the other information might help," Kerekes says. Other members of Kerekes' team are working on a variety of projects, including modifying astronomical optical sensors, designing tunable microelectronics devices to collect specific wavelengths, and developing algorithms to track a target and pick the right imaging mode based on the scenario. The researchers are testing preliminary models using generic scenarios in a simulated world similar to Second Life.
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