DARPA’s ‘Mind’s Eye’ program developing smart robotic cameras

January 6, 2011

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has contracted with 12 research teams to develop fundamental machine-based visual intelligence and three teams to develop system integration concepts.

“Ground surveillance is a mission normally performed by human assets, including Army scouts and Marine Corps Force Recon,” DARPA said. “Military leaders would like to shift this mission to unmanned systems, removing troops from harm’s way, but unmanned systems lack a capability that currently exists only in humans: visual intelligence.  The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is addressing this problem with Mind’s Eye, a program aimed at developing a visual intelligence capability for unmanned systems.

“Humans perform a wide range of visual tasks with ease, something no current artificial intelligence can do in a robust way. They have inherently strong spatial judgment and are able to learn new spatiotemporal concepts directly from the visual experience.  Humans visualize scenes and objects, as well as the actions involving those objects and possess a powerful ability to manipulate those imagined scenes mentally to solve problems.  A machine-based implementation of such abilities is broadly applicable to a wide range of applications, including
ground surveillance.”

“The joint military community anticipates a significant increase in the role of unmanned systems in support of future operations including jobs like persistent stare.  By performing persistent stare, camera-equipped unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) would take scouts out of harm’s way.  Such a capability, however, would not constitute a force multiplier because human analysts would have to interpret streaming video from these platforms to detect operationally significant activities.  A truly transformative capability requires visual intelligence, enabling these platforms to detect operationally significant activity and report on that activity so warfighters can focus on important events in a timely manner.”

Adapted from materials provided by DARPA