Melbourne Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialist Sentient Vision Systems has won a $2.1 million Australian government grant to establish a sovereign in-house manufacturing facility for its world-leading ViDAR search and surveillance pods.
ViDAR stands for Visual Detection And Ranging and is the world’s first passive optical radar. It is mounted in crewed and uncrewed fixed and rotary winged aircraft and uses Sentient AI (a powerful combination of deep learning and advanced computer vision) to scan every pixel in every frame of an optical sensor’s imagery feed to detect objects invisible to a human operator, at sea or over land.
When it detects an object the ViDAR software places a thumbnail on the Mission Management System (MMS) screen so the operator can examine it in detail. ViDAR is used for Search and Rescue (SAR), wide area surveillance, border security, and law enforcement by customers worldwide, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and many other allied organizations and agencies.
The grant was awarded under the Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources’ (DISER) Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) Translation Stream. It will enable volume manufacture in Australia of the company’s ViDAR pods for Australian and export customers.
“Winning this grant is an important step for Sentient Vision Systems,” said the company’s Managing Director and founder, Dr Paul Boxer. “We’ve been developing software-based AI surveillance systems for nearly two decades. We’ll soon be able to manufacture our own hardware in larger quantities as well whilst maintaining control over their quality and supply for critical surveillance and safety missions.”
The ViDAR VMS pods were launched in 2021 to provide complete integrated pod systems for rapid fitment to a wide range of crewed and uncrewed fixed and rotary winged aircraft, and for easy integration with the aircraft’s MMS. At present the company hand-builds pods in Australia and with partners in Canada and Europe.
Thanks to the new facility, Sentient Vision Systems will be able to quickly meet the growing global demand for VIDAR pod systems to suit surveillance aircraft, ships and drones employed in different missions.