Friday, April 6, 2012

Fire Scout to get smarter

Navy Fire Scout unmanned helicopters will be getting smarter about hunting pirates thanks to an Office of Naval Research-funded project that will help the robots autonomously distinguish pirate boats from other vessels. The Navy plans to upgrade Fire Scouts with the Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker, a mix of cameras, infrared sensors and LIDAR that will provide 3-D laser images. MMSS is designed to reduce the workload of sailors operating Fire Scouts from control stations aboard Navy ships. Testing begins this summer off the coast of California. (Source: Office of Naval Research, 04/05/12) Gulf Coast note: Fire Scouts are built in Moss Point, Miss., by Northrop Grumman; Fire Scouts will eventually serve on the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships, a version of which is being built in Mobile, Ala., by Austal USA; the Office of Naval Research's Naval Research Laboratory has an operation at Stennis Space Center, Miss.