The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) successfully tested cameras with 1.4- and 0.96-gigapixel resolution, aiming for resolution up to 10 and 50 gigapixels—better than the human eye.
The ability to see farther, with higher clarity, and through darkness and/or obscurants is vital to nearly all military operations. At the same time, there is an immense need to increase field of view (FOV), resolution and day/night capability at reduced size, weight and power (SWaP) and cost for advanced imaging systems. The main driver for these requirements is to provide dismounted soldiers, ground troops and near-ground support platforms with the best available imaging tools for their combat effectiveness.
With the advent of smaller unmanned aerial vehicles, which can provide a huge advantage to U.S. troops, the pressure to increase performance and reduce SWaP is even more intense. The Advanced Wide FOV Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation (AWARE) program responds to these needs by simultaneously pushing the envelope of imager performance through new camera designs and advanced distributed aperture sensors ground support systems.
As part of the program, DARPA successfully tested cameras with 1.4 and 0.96 gigapixel resolution at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. The gigapixel cameras combine 100-150 small cameras with a spherical objective lens. Local aberration correction and focus in the small cameras enable extremely high-resolution shots with smaller system volume and less distortion than traditional wide field lens systems. The DARPA effort hopes to produce resolution up to 10 and 50 gigapixels—much higher resolution than the human eye can see. Analogous to a parallel-processor supercomputer, the AWARE camera design uses parallel multiscale micro cameras to form a wide field panoramic image.