A recent test found a camera could accurately read signs and license plates up to 270 yards away. Run under the Advanced Wide Field of View Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation (AWARE) program with Duke University, the recent test used a 1-gigapixel camera made up of 100 micro-cameras.
DARPA leaders want to eventually build a 50-gigapixel camera that would usher in the imaging capabilities that are 2,000 times more powerful than today's cameras. The next step is to build a 10-gigapixel camera capable of reading license plates 540 yards away.
Scientists and engineers understand the camera is no good to soldiers on the ground if it can't work at night or in bad weather. These super cameras are being built for both.
DARPA officials have said they have seen major breakthroughs with their High Operating Temperature Mid-Wave Infrared (HOT MWIR), which will allow engineers to build more powerful hand held thermal imagers and long-range thermal scopes. The HOT MWIR developments also fall under AWARE.
Research has found the "advances in cooling, novel high operating temperature detector design and small pixel spacing allow for a large format sensor in a small, low power package," according to a DARPA statement.
"Never before has a MCT MWIR with 'see spot' capability been developed into such small handheld sights and potentially unequaled performance in future sniper scopes,” said Nibir Dhar, the DARPA program manager for AWARE. “The HOT-MWIR scope’s range is significantly farther than the current thermal weapon sights. Such a capability should lead to increased standoff distance for snipers and provide a significant advantage over adversaries.”