It's an age-old problem: How do you tell the good guys from the bad guys?Hard enough on the traditional battlefield, where even the most advanced combat identification technologies can't always penetrate the fog of war.Harder still when the enemy can be anyone, anywhere, in a place like Iraq, where soldiers must constantly be on the lookout for improvised explosive devices and other threats -- including suicide bombers.What to do? Check out this proposed Army study:
The face of the threat has changed from the armored turret of a tank to a human being with a weapon and hostile intent. This human being poses a threat to our military because around this threatening being are other people who do not pose a threat but are indeed innocent civilians who share common features with the hostile person. The peacekeeper/soldier must be able to distinguish those who posed a threat from the multitude of innocent non-hostile civilian personnel, many of whom may possess weapons as a cultural norm.The study proposal notes that "recognition of combat vehicles" software helps train soldiers to pick out good tanks and trucks from bad. There's no similar tool for human faces, although some promising work is apparently under way in projects like the search for anti-personnel landmine alternatives.
This study will provide a review of research related to behavior (hostile vs. non-hostile) derived from a variety of disciplines (such as computer simulations, behavioral psychology) and sensor parameters in various wavebands and their potential for various cues. The study will provide a way forward to implementing the appropriate cues for a software training program to discriminate combatant vs non-combatant in imagery of humans for force protection, area denial, and other military scenarios.The Army chief information officer wants the study funded in fiscal year 2006, the proposal states. (Sorry, can't link to it.)Looks like the study work, if funded, will be done by the Army's Night Vision and Electronics Study Division.THERE'S MORE: The El Paso Times on Sunday ran a good piece about how the Army is training soldiers to spot improvised explosive devices.-- posted by Dan Dupont