Network turns soldiers' helmets into sniper location system
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Date posted: 24/03/2009
Posted by: Site Administration
This story is from the category
Sensors

Engineers at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) have developed a system that can give soldiers just such an edge by turning their combat helmets into "smart nodes" in a wireless sensor network.

ISIS developed this novel technology with the support of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and the university has patented two of the system's key elements.

Like several other shooter location systems developed in recent years, the ISIS system relies on the sound waves produced when a high-powered rifle is fired. These acoustic signals have distinctive characteristics that allow the systems to pick them out from other loud noises and track them back to their source. Current systems, however, rely on centralized or stand-alone sensor arrays. This limits their accuracy and restricts them to identifying shooters at line-of-sight locations.

By contrast, the ISIS system combines information from a number of nodes to triangulate on shooter positions and improve the accuracy of its location identification process. It also uses a patented technique to filter out the echoes that can throw off other acoustic detection systems, explains Akos Ledeczi, the senior research scientist at ISIS who heads up the development effort.

"When DARPA gave us the assignment of creating a shooter location system using nodes with very limited capabilities, they didn't think we could solve the technical problems," Ledeczi admits. "At first, I didn't think we could do it either, but we figured out how to make it work!"

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