SWaP-Optimized: The Right Way to Add Advanced Surveillance Capabilities to Rotorcraft
Published in Air Beat
Modern video technology enables advanced helicopter-based surveillance capabilities that can greatly enhance police and public safety mission success.
Unfortunately, new capabilities can take up valuable space and add unwanted weight to rotorcraft platforms that already have little or no margin to spare. In addition, the process of upgrading legacy systems, say from analog to digital, can create integration difficulties, due to incompatible interface formats. The process can also introduce cumbersome, heavy wiring.
The main problem when it comes to enhancing video surveillance equipment on helicopters is straightforward: adding more weight will adversely affect fuel and power. Some of the options for addressing the challenge are less than ideal. Agencies can remove less critical equipment from their helicopters or limit mission scope by reducing range and/or duration. But how can they best equip a rotorcraft platform with today’s latest video capture and recording technology without detrimentally affecting mission success?
On top of minimizing space and weight, the system integrator faced with adding a sophisticated video management solution to a helicopter must make legacy equipment work with the latest video sources. To maximize a crew’s situational awareness, an increasing number of video cameras and surveillance display systems are being added to helicopters. Making the modern video equipment work together with the platform’s legacy systems can be costly and complex. The time and effort needed to integrate a myriad of legacy and modern video formats and resolutions can both add program risk and delay deployment.
The Modular, Open Architecture Approach
The good news is a system integration approach is available that can address both of the problems encountered by agencies adding video equipment, reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP), and managing format conversion to make old and new equipment work together.
The solution is a video management system (VMS) based on open architecture modules. The use of modular components helps keep wiring mass low by enabling smaller boxes to be located closer together in tight spaces.
A SWaP-optimized VMS might include analog and digital video switches, a video format converter, a digital video recorder and rugged LCD touchscreen displays. The displays should be built for use both in high-glare daytime and low-light nighttime applications. Because the rugged units work seamlessly together, they can eliminate the “rats nest” of video cabling, while ensuring space and weight are minimized. Even better, they make it easier to keep up-to-date with the latest high-definition video formats and a myriad of video interfaces used by camera and sensor vendors today.
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