Tactical H.265 Video Encoder for UAVs Tested

Published: 17 Sep 2019

Trillium Engineering HD080 payloadTrillium Engineering, a developer of gimbaled camera systems for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has announced that it has successfully completed a test flight of a new video processor designed to improve the operation of Group 2 UAS.

Many full-motion video camera systems flown on tactical UAVs use the H.264 video compression codec standard, which provides a picture that is considered good enough for close targets but too fuzzy for long-range operation due to the reduced bitrate, which causes critical information to be dropped from the image.

Trillium Engineering decided to adapt its HD80-MV gimbaled camera with a video processor capable of handling the newer H.265 standard. The system was mounted on a Cessna aircraft, which served as a stand-in for a similarly-sized Group 2 UAV. The gimbal payload was controlled from a laptop on the ground. The resulting streaming midwave IR and electro-optical imagery was 50 percent clearer than that produced with the previous codec standard.

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“You can’t tell, for example, if the person you are monitoring is holding a rifle or a shovel. This means that you have to scrub some missions because you can’t make a positive identification. When the plane was in the air, we reduced the bit rate to mimic a UAS that was further away. Then we switched the standard from H.264 to H.265. The difference in the picture was remarkable,” explained Rob Gilchrist, president of Trillium Engineering.

The test flight with the H.265 video processor was funded in part by a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, awarded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Trillium Engineering now plans to demonstrate the new capability to UAS companies.

“We’ll be demonstrating our H.265 processing capability on multiple Group 2 platforms over the coming months,” Gilchrist added.

Posted by Mike Ball Mike is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passions for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years.