UNSY 605

Module 1.5: First Blog Entry

In an article by Patrick Miller (2017), the author discusses the prospect of the U.S. Coast Guard being equipped with small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in order to support maritime operations. In the article the author interviews Ron Termain, a business executive for Coast Guard Affairs with 23 years of flight experience within the Coast Guard, as he recalls a mission when he failed to identify two divers and flew off (Miller, 2017). Fortunately, the story had a happy ending when the divers were rescued the next day, but the event could have easily had different results. Termain admits that if he had access to technology such as the Insitu Scan Eagle, that is equipped with a visual detection and ranging (ViDAR) sensor, he would have easily been able to identify the divers (Miller, 2017). According to the article, the ViDAR sensor is capable of identifying a person from a mile away and a freighter vessel from 30 miles away, making it an ideal candidate for not only search and rescue missions, but also drug interdiction operations (Miller, 2017). ViDAR is a type of exteroceptive visual sensor that can detect and analyze pixel anomalies within a video overlay and zoom in for a visual inspection and confirmation (Miller, 2017). Compared to traditional electro-optical and infrared visual sensors, ViDAR is a wide area sensor that enhances electro-optical imagery, bringing the capabilities of larger unmanned systems down to a size suitable for smaller aircraft. The ViDAR sensor is not only a significant example of new technology for an exteroceptive sensor but also how more powerful equipment is being made smaller so that it can be equipped onboard smaller airframes. By making sensors smaller, it allows for the endurance of the airframe to be increased or additional hardware to be installed.


Miller, P. (2017, February 16). Insitu Hopes to Give U.S. Coast Guard Cutters the UAS Advantage. UAS Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.uasmagazine.com/articles/1656/insitu-hopes-to-give-u-s-coast-guard-cutters-the-uas-advantage

2 thoughts on “UNSY 605

  1. Hi Michelle,
    Great post! I’ve never heard of ViDAR – it seems like a great technology that holds a tremendous amount of promise for capabilities even beyond search and rescue.

    I also really like your blog setup – great job!



  2. Michelle,

    The coast guard has been using this technology in the Analyze/Select phase of the acquisition for the ScanEagle. Aboard one of the National Security Cutters, they have been testing it in multiple maritime environments for a number of applications. From a SAR perspective, it would be a welcome addition to deployed helicopter pilots embarked on a Coast Guard Cutter as the ScanEagle can be launched/recovered from relatively any sea state and do the majority of the Searching with its ViDAR sensor, mitigating the fatigue that would be placed on the helicopter crew if they conducted airborne searching. This would allow the aircrew to launch in more favorable conditions and to perform the rescue portion of SAR (Unmanned Aircraft System, 2017).

    Unmanned Aircraft System. (2017, January 12). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from United States Coast Guard: https://www.uscg.mil/hq/CG9/uas/default.asp


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