Media Blog

Military Turning to the Experts to Analyze Predator Drone Video: The NFL

Los Angeles Times:

Reporting from Washington — As it rapidly expands its drone program over Afghanistan, the U.S. military is turning to the technology that powers NFL broadcasts, ESPN and TV news to catalog a flood of information coming from the cameras of its fleet of unmanned aircraft.

U.S. military archives hold 24 million minutes of video collected by Predators and other remotely piloted aircraft that have become an essential tool for commanders. But the library is largely useless because analysts often have no way of knowing exactly what they have, or any way to search for information that is particularly valuable.

To help solve that problem, the Air Force and government spy satellite experts have begun working with industry experts to adapt the methods that enable the NFL and other broadcasters to quickly find and show replays, display on-field first-down markers and jot John Madden-style notations on the screen.

“The NFL has the technology so you can pull an instant replay of any Brett Favre touchdown over his career,” said Carl Rhodes, a researcher with Rand Corp. “The idea is maybe the Air Force could use similar technology to look at what has happened at a particular corner in Afghanistan in the past week or past year.”

Sports television broadcasters mark video with embedded text “tags” that later can be searched to find footage of a particular player or play. Such tags can help editors compile a highlight reel of the day’s most exciting home runs, or a retrospective of the year’s best dunks.

The military is seeking to use similar technology to track possible insurgents in theaters thousands of miles away.

The rest here.


The Latest