Launchable camera grenades provide aerial and ground surveillance imaging

SPARCS launchable cameras

Soldier parachute aerial reconnaissance camera systems, or SPARCS, are 40mm rounds that are launched from low-velocity grenade launchers to provide real-time situational awareness to a soldier on the ground via surveillance imaging from a CMOS camera in each round.

ST Kinetics, which is a defense subsidiary of Singapore Technologies, says that the SPARC rounds are designed to be fired from existing grenade launchers that are currently in use by most military, law enforcement, and civil disaster management agencies. The projectile carrying the camera is deployed to acquire top down aerial views of a target area, and images captured are stitched together with imaging software to provide a wider aerial image of an area.

Real-time images from the camera, which features a CMOS image sensor, are sent wirelessly to a receiving station, which can be any computing device attached with a wireless receiver. Alternatively, a receiving station can be re-packaged into a load-bearing vest with a head-mounted display for soldiers to use in the field.

A technology like the SPARCS represents a low-cost information gathering technology that may be used either in tandem or in place of more costly options such as unmanned aerial vehicles or satellite imagery. As it currently stands, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States have all purchased SPARC cameras from ST Kinetics.

Via IEEE Spectrum.

View more information on SPARCS.

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