Use the binoculars, Luke!

da braaaaaain!For warfighters operating in the field, the ability to detect threats from standoff distances can be life-saving. When advanced radar and drone coverage is not available, warfighters typically rely on their own vision to scan their surroundings. Scanning over a wide area, though, is challenging because of the amount of territory that must be reviewed, the limited field of view of the human eye, and the effects of fatigue. Current technologies like binoculars, cameras, and portable radars can help to improve visibility and increase the threat detection rate. Unfortunately, current miss rates of 47 percent or greater using these technologies leave warfighters unprepared and vulnerable.

DARPA launched the Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS) program in 2008 with the goal of maximizing warfighters’ awareness of their surroundings by developing man-portable visual threat detection devices. CT2WS succeeded in creating a technology kit capable not only of identifying up to 91 percent of targets during testing with extremely low false-alarm rates, but also widening a warfighter’s field of view to 120 degrees when all components of the kit are used in tandem. By incorporating a commercial radar (the Cerberus Scout surveillance system), target detection reached 100 percent.

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