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ViDAR sensors successful test flights on UAS with US Marine Corps

Published on: October 2023

ViDAR optical sensors successful test flights with US Marine Corps

  • Integral part of program to evaluate Sentient’s innovative AI-enabled wide area motion imagery for real-time maritime surveillance.
  • Ongoing collaboration to expand and deepen the use of the technology to provide an advantage to the warfighters in the field.

Washington, DC (Wed Oct 31, 2023) – Sentient Vision Systems’ (Sentient) Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) sensor edge solution has completed a rigorous evaluation program for the US Marine Corps (USMC) centred on ground and test flights on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Official confirmation of the successful Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) project was made during the official visit of Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the United States who met with Sentient’s newly appointed CEO Mark Palmer at a reception in Washington DC.

The project objectives set by US Navy NAVAIR PMA 263 (Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems program office) in 2022, were to execute an FCT project evaluating Sentient’s ViDAR™ payload for USMC specific operations in wide area maritime environments. The success of the FCT project sees the team progress to enhanced application integration and operationalising the VIDAR payload with the USMC in the field.  FCTs are one path to a Program of Record with the US DoD.

ViDAR, developed by Sentient in Melbourne, Australia, is the world’s first optical sensor enabled by AI and edge computing, to passively detect and identify objects in wide area motion imagery. ViDAR has been deployed in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions as well as search and rescue missions and is proven up to Sea State 6.

ViDAR’s integration is a validation on ViDAR’s low SWaP (size, weight, and power) form factor and broad operating envelope deployable on small, Group 2 UAS to provide unprecedented long-endurance imaging capability in contested environments all around the world.

“This milestone demonstrated the strength in our continued partnership to drive innovation in AI-enabled edge solutions.  Learnings from real-time data further optimises detection and identification to enhance situational awareness. I believe Sentient’s pedigree in AI computer vision and deep learning, deployed on powerful yet lightweight modular systems, is the edge needed in successful ISR missions,” explained Mark Palmer who, together with Damien Tyrrell, Sentient’s Regional Director formed part of the top-level delegation during the DC visit.

“The team’s feedback on ViDAR’s performance was very positive and will help further develop procedures for crew coordination and surveillance strategies. Importantly, the work we are doing on the FCT is designed to be reusable on a range of UAVs, to maximise impact and make it easier for the troops in theatre,” reported Tyrrell.

The program started in October 2022 and the final flight evaluation was completed over four days. Flight testing trials have identified follow-on tasks to be accomplished by Sentient to progress the ViDAR payload towards a Program of Record.

With close to 4,500 systems deployed, Sentient’s AI-enabled sensor edge solutions for wide area motion imagery is proven for detection and identification in missions worldwide.

NAVAIR Public Release 2023-823 Distribution Statement A – “Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited”.

Image credit : U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Adam Montera.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.


About Sentient Vision Systems

Sentient Vision Systems specializes in passive, optical detection using wide area motion imagery. Sentient’s artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled sensor edge solutions better detect and identify small objects, on land, in the air and at sea. With more than 20 years of development in moving target indication, AI computer vision and machine learning, Sentient has deployed thousands of systems worldwide in the field of Intelligence, Surveillance, Search and Rescue, enhancing situational awareness decisions in real-time and has saved lives.

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