The Problem:

Aircraft and other vehicles such as truck trailers parked in tandem lots may be parked in a mostly unattended area for considerable periods of time. This leaves them vulnerable to theft, vandalism, or sabotage. Standard security installations may not be available, and human-monitored security is quite costly.

IEM’s Wise Solution

For NASA, IEM undertook the development of a security system for aircraft. Originally intended to address security onboard an in-flight airliner, the project eventually focused on ground security due to the industry’s interests. The challenges were considerable: how to automatically secure an airliner with something that was inexpensive and portable without requiring an expensive human being to observe at all times?

The result was our Autonomous Ground Sentinel (AGS), described as a system elsewhere. One important aspect of this project, however, was the need to provide all-weather, all-lighting panoramic monitoring of the area in a compact, low-cost, low-power device. Military approaches for all-weather monitoring generally use LWIR or MWIR thermal imaging, but thermal imaging devices are extremely expensive.

IEM devised a patent-pending method of providing low-cost, low-light portable panoramic surveillance through the use of wide-angle optics, duty-cycled NIR (near-infrared) LED illuminators, and a highly sensitive visible and NIR camera with intelligent image processing. The combination permitted AGS to see through fog and smoke at 50-100 yard distances, acquire good images even at night, and process the images to detect approaching targets at distances of a hundred yards or more. The power draw was extremely low, so that it was easy to incorporate into a light, transportable monitoring system for use in aircraft, commercial vehicle, or other security applications.