The soldier of tomorrow will have a GPS sensor in his or her helmet, and an “inertial” sensor for areas with no GPS reception. On the modern battlefield, generals can watch frontline troops in real time. Plotting their position using GPS, they can plan battles like never before and warn soldiers of nearby threats. All of which works fine, until they walk into a building and their satellite signal disappears.
Now a technology has been successfully tested by the army that solves this problem. Using information from head-mounted cameras, engineers said that they could follow troops around buildings even when no GPS signal was present.
“Knowledge of where you are and where your buddies are is of great importance,” Mark Coleman, from Roke, the engineering company, said. “This is especially so when you are talking about a very complex environment, such as a maze of buildings.”
Until now, when soldiers have gone into shopping malls or tunnels they have had access to an “inertial” system of navigation, which uses similar technology to that found within a mobile phone. However, it quickly loses accuracy.
The new technology goes a step further, Mr Coleman said. When the GPS signal is lost, the soldier’s head-mounted camera is able to locate itself by identifying all the objects in front of it.
The technology is still experimental, but Mr Coleman said that it outperformed what had been done previously and there were plans to adapt it to night vision and infrared cameras.
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