Instant picture

Navy to test camera that would upgrade submarine periscopes

The Navy is preparing to test a new 360- degree camera for periscopes that will give submarine crews an instant picture of what’s on the surface day or night.

The advanced camera system, manufactured by RemoteReality, of Westborough, Mass., is being tested for use aboard Los Angeles- and Seawolf-class submarines for improved situational awareness and safety. Instead of a visual scan that can take several minutes with a periscope, the camera can provide an instant full view of the surface — reducing the likelihood that a submarine will be detected and providing a view that can be analyzed on-screen after the periscope is lowered. The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Submarines is managing the tests.

The camera gives submarine crews a critical quicklook capability, said Dennis McGinn, chief executive officer at RemoteReality. “We take an optical image using a mirror — usually a parabolic shape — and focus it through a lens array into a sensor,” he said. “We apply various algorithms to take out the parabolic mirror distortions, and then you’re able to display all or any part of that image that you want.”

In addition to providing an instant view, McGinn said, “you record a circular image that you can display any way you want.”

Coupled with analysis software, the images captured by the camera will be used for visual analysis on video displays in a submarine’s control room. Alan Baribeau, public affairs officer at the Naval Sea Systems Command, said the Navy expects the camera to provide improved contact management features and continuous 360-degree visual awareness in addition to facilitating follow-on automatic detection and tracking algorithms. The camera is also expected to reduce the workload on crews by allowing for automated detection of new contacts with a continuous visual search routine.

The camera is also being tested for potential military applications “in areas such as fighting and combat vehicles, security, critical infrastructure protection, and videoconferencing,” McGinn said. He added that a version of the camera has been connected in tests to a helmet that gives vehicle drivers a projected view of their surroundings while they remain inside.

About the Author

Sean Gallagher is senior contributing editor for Defense Systems.

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