Calgary, Alberta, Canada, March 27, 2013—The first operational test of the TSR-1800 in an arctic coastal environment was successfully conducted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue of Barrow, Alaska, under the guidance of ITRES.
The NSB SAR team recently took possession of a new pressurized Beechcraft King Air aircraft configured in a dual medevac/search and rescue role by Avcon Aviation Consulting Services. The wide swath TSR-1800 will be used by NSB as they provide search and rescue services for the entire North Slope region.
After installing their new TSR-1800 system, NSB conducted a series of search and rescue test flights over ocean, tundra, and urban test areas near Barrow. ITRES provided operational training and support to NSB during these flights. The goal of these flights was the evaluation of system performance in automatically detecting ground targets from multiple flying heights over land and ice/water.
The airborne tests were conducted with ambient air temperatures of -29°C (-20°F) and cabin temperatures of between 10-21°C (50-70°F). Flights were conducted at multiple altitudes (~688 ft, 1425ft, and 1000ft AGL), and fast ground speeds of 155, 230, and 246 knots). People and vehicles (trucks, snowmobiles) were deployed in known locations for the overflights. Searches were conducted both day and night, and with clear sky and ice fog conditions.
The moving map and thermal anomalies detected by the system automatically during one of the flights is seen at right, along with the installed system. The displayed boxes are thumbnail thermal images of some of the identified targets chosen for closer examination.
Closer views of the georeferenced thermal thumbnails that correspond to some of the thermal anomalies automatically detected and geotagged by the system are seen on the next page. These samples were captured during flights conducted during the day and evening. Each are radiometrically calibrated and georeferenced in real-time by the system as the anomalies are detected and shown on the moving map display.
The resul688ft AGts of these tests were positive, with the TSR-1800 shown to be a stable system capable of automatically detecting and geotagging people, vehicles, and animals under a range of environmental conditions. Positional accuracy of the detected anomalies was seen to be 6.5 feet, regardless of flying height or fast ground speed. A negligible number of false positives were encountered over the entire set of flights, and these were easily filtered by the NSB operator. Flying over ice fog resulting in blurring of the image thumbnails, but did not appear to affect detection. In any case, flying through/over clouds is not recommended.
Follow up work is being conducted by ITRES using these cold weather datasets to fine-tune the detection algorithms used by the TSR-1800 to further improve performance.
About ITRES (www.itres.com)
ITRES is a leading-edge technology company specializing in the development, manufacturing, and use of hyperspectral airborne sensors. ITRES offers sensor systems that cover visible-near-infrared, shortwave infrared, midwave infrared, and thermal infrared wavelengths. Services include providing airborne hyperspectral imaging for defense & humanitarian applications, and environmental and commercial mapping applications in forestry, agriculture, wetlands, water quality, coastal zone, mineralogy, geology, heat loss, wildfire mapping, and search and rescue.
About North Slope Borough Search and Rescue (www.north-slope.org)
The borough encompasses a wide swath of land forming the northernmost region of Alaska, bounded to the south by the Brooks Mountain Range and to the north by the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. The community of Barrow forms the economic, transportation, and administrative center for the region. With a small population of nearly 8,000 people spread over an area of 245,000 km2 (~95,000 miles2) and seven villages, the borough’s Search and Rescue (SAR) department’s mission is to increase the safety of all residents. SAR provides rapid and reliable airborne 24/7 response to medevac needs as well as search and rescue for lost, overdue, missing, or injured traveler(s).