Curious as to how the Defense Department could be spying on you next? PBS checked in with DARPA about the latest in drone camera technology for the NOVA special “Rise of the Drones,” including the world’s highest-resolution camera.
Actually seeing the sensor on ARGUS-IS, or Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, is still classified, but the basics of how it works have been deemed fit for public consumption.
ARGUS-IS uses 368 imaging chips like those found in cell phone cameras, to stitch together a 1.8 billion pixel video. That means from 17,500 feet in the air, ARGUS-IS can see someone on the ground waving their arms. And it generates that kind of high-definition video for an area 15 square miles across. It can see a bird flying through a parking lot from more than three miles in the air.
It can store a million terabytes of video a day, up to 5,000 hours of footage, so soon drones will not only be able to see everything that happens on the ground, but also keep that record.
Whether or not ARGUS has been used in the field is still classified. Let’s get real, though: Does this cool a toy get put in a corner?