Software embedded in soldier’s helmet pinpoints enemy snipers

March 25th, 2009 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 25 (IANS) Imagine a squad of soldiers who can pinpoint out-of-sight enemy snipers and identify the calibre and type of weapons being fired, with the help of software embedded in their helmets.
Engineers at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) have developed a system that can give soldiers just such an edge by turning their combat helmets into “smart nodes” in a wireless sensor network.

ISIS developed this technology with the support of the Defence Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and the university has patented two of the system’s key elements.

Like several other shooter location systems developed in recent years, the ISIS system relies on the sound waves produced when a high-powered rifle is fired.

These acoustic signals have distinctive characteristics that allow the systems to pick them out from other loud noises and track them back to their source.

Current systems, however, rely on centralised or stand-alone sensor arrays. This limits their accuracy and restricts them to identifying shooters at line-of-sight locations.

The ISIS system combines information from a number of nodes to triangulate on shooter positions and improve the accuracy of its location identification process.

It also uses a patented technique to filter out the echoes that can throw off other acoustic detection systems, explains Akos Ledeczi, the senior research scientist at ISIS who heads the development effort.

Retired Lt Col Albert Sciarretta, who assesses new military technologies in urban environments for DARPA, is one of the experts who is impressed by the ISIS system, said a Vanderbilt release.

“Its strong points are that it isn’t limited to locating shots fired in direct line-of-sight, it can pick up multiple shooters at the same time, and it can identify the calibre and type of weapon that is being fired,” Sciarretta said.

“A leader can use the information that this system provides to react tactically to enemy shooters in ways that limit the number of friendly force and non-combatant casualties. The ISIS system could be easily developed into an operational war-fighting system.”

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