DARPA has released more details on the ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel camera that will be attached to unmanned drones to spot targets as small as six inches at an altitude of 20,000 feet. The camera – which is one of the highest resolution systems in the world – can view ten square miles of terrain at a time and zoom in on targets with surprising clarity.
The camera uses 368 five-megapixel camera sensors aimed through a telescopic array to pick out birds in flight and humans on the move on the Earth’s surface. ARGUS stands for Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System.
The system creates 600 gigabytes of data per second, part of which is processed on board and, presumably, stored for later perusal. It would be functionally impossible to send all of ARGUS’ data down to the control room, which is why DARPA created the Persistics system to point out points of interest in the scene as ARGUS fly overhead.
The video above shows how the ARGUS can perform some serious air surveillance. While this footage is taken at 20,000 feet, imagine what this guy could see if it were a bit lower.