Micro Imagers For Sensing On Nano Air Vehicles

Micro-Sensors for Imaging (MSI) is the name of the DARPA project that will give eyes to the new generation of nano air vehicles.

(MSI - micro-sensors for imaging logo)

With the impetus toward micro-air and -ground vehicles for military applications, there is a compelling need for imaging micro-sensors compatible with these small platforms. Dramatic reduction in size and weight also significantly impacts the format of individual warfighter systems, opening the way to new sensor concepts especially in head-mounted applications. The Micro-Sensors for Imaging Program addresses technology to meet theses needs, achieving a dramatic reduction in the size and weight of short wave infrared (SWIR) imaging sensors for both micro-air vehicle and head-mounted applications.

DARPA aims to develop a SWIR micro-air vehicle camera that weighs just ten grams - and that's inclusive of optics, detector and electronics.

Fans of sf writer Neal Stephenson already knew we would need these; take a look at his description of what was needed for the tiny flying aerostat monitors from his 1995 novel The Diamond Age.

Miss Pao continued, "The sky-eye dispatched a flight of eight smaller aerostats equipped with cine cameras."

The kinky football was replaced by a picture of a tear-drop-shaped craft, about the size of an almond, trailing a whip antenna, with an orifice at its nose protected by an incongruously beautiful iris.

Now that I think about it, I think Raymond Z. Gallun also thought about this problem in his incomparable 1936 story The Scarab describing a tiny remote-controlled nano air vehicle:

...the Scarab buzzed into the great workroom as any intruding insect might, and sought the security of a shadowed corner. There it studied its surroundings, transmitting to its manipulator, far away now, all that it heard through its ear microphones and saw with its minute vision tubes.

See Micro Imagers for Sensing (MISI) at DARPA; read about the sf side of lots of other DARPA projects.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/9/2009)

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