Switchable Polarimetric Camera for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
Polarimetric imagery, where the polarization state of light, in addition to light wavelength or intensity, is measured across an image scene, has been shown to greatly increase the ability of an Infrared (IR) imaging system to detect man-made objects in natural backgrounds. The proposed research project is directed toward the development of a switchable polarizing element. This device, when retrofitted to an existing IR camera will add the capability of switching from high-resolution IR imaging mode to a polarimetric IR imaging mode. This will allow the acquisition of an image containing the full polarization state of the light in a single camera frame, thus allowing the detection of fast moving objects, or of making observations from a rapidly moving platform, such as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Since the polarization mode will be user-selectable, the modified camera will be capable of generating fused imagery, where hidden man-made objects such as vehicles, buildings or land mines, can be highlighted within the high-resolution scene. The polarizing element is designed with no moving parts, making it ideal for deployment in UAV or missile platforms. BENEFIT: The development of the switchable polarimeter allows switching between high resolution imagery and polarimetric imagery. This system can be retrofit to existing IR camera systems, improving the ability of UAVs to distinguish manmade objects through clutter, camouflage, and tree canopy.
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