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Digital Multispectral Binocular System (DMBS)


OBJECTIVE: Develop a helmet-mounted display (HMD) system for pilots that adaptively integrates shortwave infrared (SWIR), near-IR (NIR), visible, off-head thermal, and computer symbology/imagery into fused visualizations. DESCRIPTION: Pilots need a visualization system that enables day/night/adverse weather operations and that is digital. Currently fielded night vision and day vision technologies are not integrated and do not work as well as needed under many illumination conditions. The opportunity now exists to replace two separate helmet clip-ons now in use-the night-vision goggles (NVGs) based on analog technology (image intensifier vacuum tubes), and the day-target sighting systems based on analog microdisplays (high-voltage miniature cathode ray tubes (CRTs))with a single integrated day/night/adverse weather visualization system based on digital devices (low-voltage digital solid-state imagers, processors, and displays). The goal of this topic is to create and develop revolutionary pilot HMD visualization systems via a spiral development process leveraging recent advances in imaging sensors, fusion algorithms, and supercomputing processors. New focal plane array (FPA) sensors with substantially improved visualization potential are now becoming available in several bands, including especially NIR & SWIR, but also visible, mid-wave infrared (MWIR) and long-wave infrared (LWIR, aka thermal, aka forward/downward-looking IR, FLIR/DLIR). Long-term efforts to develop scene-adaptive multiband image fusion algorithms have culminated in software available for implementation in a variety of warfighter visualization tasks to optimally combine two, three, or four different sensors of varying resolution. Supercomputing processors capable of 150 to 350 billion operations-per-second (GOPS) are becoming available to implement the advanced adaptive fusion algorithms in real time (30 to 60 Hz) in the form of either application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips or one to two small boards populated with the latest floating-point-gate-array (FPGA) packages. All designs sought under this topic should be a binocular for an aviation helmet providing a 40degrees field of view (FOV) with 100 percent overlap and 1:1 magnification. The threshold (minimum) capability demonstration sought is a binocular HMD-mounted SWIR-only or SWIR-NIR system having a minimum resolution of 1280 by 1024 pixels with computer-input for either symbol overlay or synthetic/augmented image presentation to the eye. Objective long-term performance sought is 2560- by 2048-pixel image resolution, which corresponds to 20:20 visual acuity in a 40degrees FOV, in the final DMBS. Scene-adaptive fused imagery is desired in addition to the SWIR at all stages of DMBS development, including the possible addition of HMD-mounted visable sensors, or the use of aircraft-mounted imaging sensors in any portion of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum--including LWIR, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), synthetic aperture radar (SAR)--to generate the fused image displayed to the eyes. All designs and prototypes should meet the space, weight, ergonomic, power, performance, and integration (SWEPPI) requirements for pilot helmet-mounted systems. PHASE I: Design binocular pilot HMD system sensitive in SWIR and VNIR (visible and NIR) with inputs for off-helmet symbology/imagery. Sensor may be a single FPA or multiple FPAs with electronic fusion. Display may be opaque or see-through. Processor must enable symbology overlay and fusion of a/c-mounted imaging sources. PHASE II: Fabricate binocular SWIR-VNIR pilot HMD clip-on system suitable for evaluation in a representative environment. Prototype must be demonstrated in a laboratory environment to enable symbol overlay and fusion of simulated a/c imaging sensors such as FLIR, SAR and synthetic vision. Prototype should meet the SWEPPI requirements for engineering development into a product for use with current helmets. PHASE III: Develop engineering prototype of helmet system and support flight test. Develop fusion helmet system and demonstrate in relevant environment. Develop commercialization plan to include applications to Homeland Security operations and civil aircraft operations in adverse weather conditions. REFERENCES: 1. Jeff Paul,"Exploit new spectral band (SWIR) & multi-spectral fusion: MANTIS Program Update,"Multispectral Adaptive Networked Tactical Imaging System (MANTIS), WBR Soldier Technology US 2008 Conference (Worldwide Business Res. Ltd.,) Arlington, VA, 15 Jan 2008. 2. Goodrich, for SWIR sensor data. 3. Peter Burt,"On Combining Color and Contrast-selective Methods for Fusion,"IDGA Image Fusion Conference, Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, 2004. 4. Raytheon Vision Systems, 5. Wesley Sheridan,"Binocular Multispectral Adaptive Imaging System,"Night Vision Summit, Institute for Defense and Government Advancement, 2010.
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