Those unfamiliar with UAVs will find a concise summary of the current, publicly known state of play as well as a brief history of their development. What appears to be new are the details of a panoramic camera called Argus developed by Britain-based BAE Systems, the third-largest defense contractor in the world.
“Today we’ve developed sensors that can watch, with an all-seeing eye, and see an area about the size of a small city. All at one time,” said David Deptula, a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force.
At 1.8 billion pixels, Argus is the world’s highest-resolution camera. For comparison, a quick Google search suggests that the next highest-resolution camera, available to professionals, is a Swedish-made Hasselblad, which clocks in at 200 million pixels.
From an altitude of 17,500 feet, Argus can see an object 6 inches off the ground, and automatically identifies everything that moves. Its recordings can be stored at a capacity equivalent to 5,000 hours of high-definition footage and are instantly retrievable at every level of magnification.
“NOVA” indicates these cameras could one day be mounted on a fleet of solar-powered craft capable of staying aloft for five years at a time. “We would like Argus to be over the same area 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” BAE designer Yannis Antoniadis said.