Monday, 09 April 2012 11:40
April 9, 2012
The U.S. military is concentrating its efforts to develop a new kind of aircraft that can more effectively identify small boats used by pirates.
Popular Science reports that the Navy is working to craft robots that will assist in efforts to track and rescue those captured by pirates, particularly in regions of the world where such attacks are commonplace. While the Pentagon already employs machines capable of identifying ships and other vessels, the organization's latest engineering research is using so-called LIDAR technology to improve their functionality and performance.
LIDAR is essentially laser radar that utilizes laser pulses to quickly paint a three-dimensional picture of an object. The Navy hopes that equipping its unmanned helicopters, known as "Fire Scouts," with LIDAR will enable them to compare pictures of vessels they encounter with a database containing ships commonly used by pirates.
The Fire Scouts would then be able to inform the operators of any nearby commercial vessels if it senses that pirates are operating, according to Navy engineers. The breakthrough in engineering research and development could help slow piracy around the Horn of Africa, without prompting a geopolitical crisis.