SPIE Defense & Security Symposium Starts in Orlando

Imaging show looks at infrared, optical sensors, cameras, night vision

* Information Fusion, Data Mining

* Information Networks Security

* Signal, Image and Neural Net Processing

* Communications and Networking Technologies and Systems

With thousands of presentations at DSS spanning discovery, development and distribution of defense and security technology, this meeting has become recognized as a "must-attend" event for both researchers and industry. "By providing a forum to review requirements and results, we help university, government and industry brainpower push the outer edge of technology and take it to the next level," added Walker.

Specific applications of technology being discussed include imaging systems that can "see through" walls, futuristic robotic vehicles and sensors for border security, new ways to inspect cargo and identify underwater threats in harbors, nonlethal weapons, recognition of chemical plumes, self-lubricating films using nanotechnology, wireless sensor networks, biometric technology for human identification, nanoscale sensors, space applications, helmet-mounted displays and night vision goggles. Many sessions are devoted to information retrieval, data mining, face recognition, new displays and integrated intelligent microsystems that push the limits.

Well over 100 presentations are related to unmanned systems, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and robots on the ground for border security, search and rescue, and military operations. Capping presentations on these new R&D achievements is a special evening session Wednesday 19 April called the DARPA Grand Challenge. Larry Stotts, Deputy Director of the DARPA Advanced Technology Office, will review a unique program to accelerate autonomous ground vehicle technology that could be used to someday save lives on the battlefield. DARPA awarded a $2 million prize to a team from Stanford University, who fielded a remote-controlled vehicle that completed a 140-mile course in the Mojave Desert. Possible commercial spin-offs from this type of work include collision avoidance, automated road sign recognition and durable remote control systems. Stotts will provide an insider's view of the Grand Challenge program including goals, results and stories of the innovators who took part in the great race.

Another major theme at DSS is use of spaceborne sensors for both military and civilian applications. According to Program Chair Peter Tchoryk, CEO of Michigan Aerospace Corp., "The idea behind Responsive Space is for the government to be able to launch satellites 'on demand' when the need arises, rather than using today's timelines measured in months or years. Our session is intended to foster an exchange of ideas related to accelerating that process -- from the payload, satellite, and launch perspectives. Topics may include component and systems technology developments, infrastructure, testing, and operational issues that must ultimately be addressed to create responsive space architecture and enhance joint warfighting capability."

Sensing and prediction of natural phenomena is of great general interest, particularly hurricanes. "The majority of media coverage associated with the Federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has focused on what went wrong. The 'Algorithms and Technologies for Multispectral, Hyperspectral, and Ultraspectral Imagery XII Conference' has a special session entitled 'The Use of Civil Remote Sensing in Improving Hurricane Forecasting and Assisting Emergency Responders,'" said Conference Chair Sylvia Shen, The Aerospace Corp. "Here we will show how civilian remote sensing has a leading role in improving our ability to cope with natural disasters such as these. We will tell the story of what went right, highlighting improved prediction of the paths of both hurricanes, as well as the ability to use currently available U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emergency response airborne remote sensing technology to perform rapid needs assessment and mitigate potentially dangerous situations on the ground for regional on-scene commanders and emergency responders."