Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Super Surveillance Camera

The US Army and the research organization DARPA have shared a glimpse of ARGUS-IS, a 1.8-gigapixel camera that is flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet and filming activity on the ground, with a resolution as small as six inches.

(Direct link to video) The makers tout the device as the "next generation of surveillance" which can "spot a terrorist" from four miles in the sky, track individual cars or persons, and permanently record all the data. The engineers, their faces lit creepily from below, hint that the camera is being trained on U.S. citizens. 

I suppose there's someone up there watching us make snow angels.


Rich said...

Somewhat eerie: an "increasingly electronic society" empowered with limitless camera enlarging power and with future weapons miniatuarisation as well.

Josh Freeman said...

The video said, "Agrus streams live to the ground and stores everything a million terabytes of video a day. Which is the equivalent of 5000 hours of hd footage."

How do you store that much data "permanently"? A million terabyte drives a day? Stored both inside the UAV and streamed?

Randall Munroe's What If? blog this week was about comparing transferring files over the internet versus shipping drives via fedex. One of the stats he used was the current internet average traffic, which is 167 terabits per second or 1.8 million terabytes per day.

If one device is producing over 50% as much data as the entire internet, think of one of these over every major city... I think their calculations might be off by a few orders of magnitude.

Now 5000 hours of HD at 11 gigs/hour using the HDV format comes out to 55 terabytes. Now 30 2TB drives or 20 3TB drives inside the plane sounds more reasonable. Still several thousand dollars a day just in storage costs for operating one of these, but more reasonable.

Vladimir Venkov said...

Goodbye privacy....
Josh do you think we know what technology they are using to store this data. I dont think we know.

James Gurney said...

Josh, thanks for doing the math. Fascinating. Maybe there's a bit of intimidation in just assuming they're recording "Santa knows when you've been sleeping, he knows when you're awake, so be good for goodness sake."

Josh Freeman said...

vlad, mainly I just think that the 1 million terabytes per day figure that the video gave was a enormous over-exaggeration. But yes I doubt they would be using 3 1/4 in hard drives in the plane, they could have stacks of custom built flash chip arrays and for military use, cost isn't as much of an issue, but the guy was talking about 24/7 archived coverage. which is a lot of storage.

Check out this article about hard drives and data centers if each hard drive is 2 terabytes a a data center with 200k drives would be filled up in 1 year by 20 of these drones. if we went with the million terabytes a day figure, 1 drone would fill the datacenter in 9.6 hours.

Diana Moses Botkin said...

Too bad we can't access this system and check up on our teenagers.

Joshua said...

HD footage would be somewhere between 2 gigabytes (compressed on a DVD, or are these not considered HD?) and 20 gigabytes an hour (Canon XF105 prosumer-level camera does around this, I think). Assuming 20 as a pessimistic figure, 5,000 hours would be 100,000 gigabytes, equivalent to 100 terabytes a day... or 100 million megabytes. I wonder if they mixed up their units.

Roberto said...

(from Saturday, December 29, 2012
Image Parsing)

Point C:
What is not at all trivial are the implications in real time, or near future time, of these developments in robotic technologies for use by the rich, powerful, and possibly not so well intentioned sentient-beings, guvments and guvment type military agencies, and weapons manufacturers. The potential for abuse and misuse is staggering when you start considering nano-technologies, drones-as-surveillance, and drones-as-weapons. You don’t even need to get close to strong AI or sentience for the implications to be staggering! Once we stick our fingers in that mess there’s no turning back. Resistance is futile! (We’ll soon be looking back from a brave new world order at the quaint and na├»ve days of plein-air painting with our furbies.)
Qe sera sera, let us dance and sing while the sun still shines! -RQ

Unknown said...

Amazing, reminds me of spy gadgets for sale online, this new surveillance aircraft can detect individuals or objects below. Hopefully, won't be used to invade privacy of every citizen.

Dan Gurney said...

Creepy! One might wonder what technologies we're NOT allowed to glimpse.

Like you, I also thought there may be a bit (maybe more like a megabit) of intimidation intended in this information. "You better watch out! DARPA Claus is coming to town."

I don't want this Claus anywhere near my town.