Sunday, January 17, 2010

Soldiers See Through Walls

Entering a building and clearing rooms may become much safer for Soldiers in combat as Army scientists continue to develop Sense-Through-the-Wall technology to increase situational awareness. Research, Development and Engineering Command technicians demonstrated Sense-Through-the-Wall radar imaging and many other high-tech gadgets at the Army Strong Zone outside the Alamodome during the buildup to the 2010 All-American Bowl. The Army Strong Zone gave visitors a glimpse of career opportunities and futuristic Army equipment and vehicles. The radar imaging device emits an electromagnetic wave that penetrates physical barriers. The wave records Doppler movements and sends information to the receiver antenna. The imager then displays the range and general direction of all targets for the Soldier. Officials said the technology may be useful in urban areas where many of today's battles occur. Building clearing procedures take a priority in city streets and back alleys. A device that would allow Soldiers to recon a house and determine enemy locations would certainly save lives."This is giving Soldiers more awareness," said John Cua, Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J. "They have an extra piece of information to use in room clearance missions that would help them make the right decision." The technology has been in continuous development for 10 years, but the device has entered into a bidding process and Cua said testing continues to go well. "We have contacted Battle Labs at Fort Benning, Georgia. We gave them this equipment and asked them how they could integrate this technology into their strategies," he said. Although the bidding process has started, RDECOM continues to make improvements to the device, and Cua said Soldiers shouldn't treat it like a silver bullet. "The Soldiers obviously want an increased range and we're definitely trying to get the equipment lighter," he said. "We don't want to burden the Soldiers with a piece of heavy equipment that replaces another piece of equipment that could save lives." The device is user friendly and it takes less than two days of new equipment training before Soldiers become effective at using the technology. The graphic user interface is easy to read, and Cua said the feedback has been very positive. "Soldiers would love to have this capability at hand," he said. "If it's something that would help save their own lives and others then they're definitely welcoming it."