Life On Earth
Fire Scout - Navy's Robotic Pirate Hunter
Somali pirates are certainly a brave bunch, especially with the almighty US Navy getting involved in hunting them down. Even contending with Navy SEALs and the latest satellite technology hasn't been able to make them any less notable of a threat. Now, the US Navy is bringing in robots to help identify pirate vessels.
The Fire Scout is an unmanned helicopter drone launched from a ship, which has previously proven itself very effective against drug smugglers .The Office of Naval research has plans to get them equipped with a special laser satellite technology called LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging), which identifies objects by bouncing laser pulses off their surface. It's capable of mapping a 3D image of the boat in question and checking it against a database of vessels commonly used by pirates. If there is a match, it notifies the operators down below.
This laser imaging technology is very effective on a Fire Scout, which can be armed to perform strike missions without a problem (see picture above). That means that the chopperbot can both identify a potential pirate ship and disable it should the need arise.This should also help the Armed Forces' information overload problem because it filters out unnecessary data.
By Denis Ivanov
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