Ronald Olch (Systems Engineer) on the UFO Data Acquisition Project (UFODAP) team explains what the gear is made of and the capabilities.
Moving target detection and tracking using a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera and the Optical Tracking Data Acquisition Unit (OTDAU) software
The MSDAU contains a high-speed Linux-based computer and a suite of precision sensors and Ethernet connectivity in a rugged, environmental enclosure. Sensors include a magnetometer, gyroscope, rate and position accelerometers, barometer, temperature and humidity plus a GPS receiver for position and time. Optional external USB devices are supported by two external connectors and a universal camera mount is available on top of the enclosure. All power and signals are provided by a single PoE+ Ethernet connector with power/signal sharing for the MSDAU and camera functions provided internally. Mounting options include wall, poll and tripod mounts.
OTDAU with a variety of USB and IP cameras, both fixed and Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ). This image shows a configuration that uses a fixed, wide-angle, high-resolution camera. A blue bounding box has been designated to define an area for initial target detection.
UFODAP cameras have a wide range of resolutions and operate in color and IR wavelengths.
All four of the cameras offered as UFO Data Acquisition
OTDAU detects and continuously tracks an object that moves into the bounding box area. It then shrinks the box around the target to prevent distractions from background objects.
A number of automatic processes reduce the possibility of triggering recording on false positives, such as flickering stars, birds and moving foliage.
At night, the system samples the background sky and determines what objects to ignore during run time, as shown here.
As illustrated above, OTDAU uses AI and machine vision technologies to detect false positive targets. This menu controls how that is done and what files are analyzed.
This view illustrates playback of a recorded file as the OTDAU Analytics capability determines the nature of the object. This feature can recognize aircraft and birds, modifying the video file name to indicate its conclusion, thus reducing the need for an analyist to review files that do not depict unknowns.
Potential targets are identified by a series of machine vision steps and qualifications, such as size, time visible and proximity to static, night objects.
Once a target has been initially detected, it is continuously re-identified and designated on the User Interface. If the camera is PTZ-capable, then it is commanded to make an initial move to center the target and then continuously moves the camera in a closed-loop process to maintain the object near the center of the field of view (CFOV). If enabled, zooming will occur in steps when the target is close enough to the CFOV.
OTDAU can be enabled to start recording a number of different video channels, such as the raw camera video, video with metadata superimposed and a graphical track of target motion. It can also records the system setup parameters for later analysis and an Excel-compatible CSV file of all camera motions.
After recording has been completed for one target track, a brief description, collected videos as well as periodic snapshots of the video can be composed into an email that may be sent to up to three recipients.
Either immediately after an individual tracking recording or a batch of video files at any time may be analyzed to automatically identify the target type. Several AI techniques and unique algorithms are employed to identify aircraft and birds in each video and optionally to modify its folder name to include the estimated target type and confidence level. This capability can reduce analyst's time for file uploading, opening and viewing by avoiding know objects and focusing on those labeled UNKNOWN.
For situations where it is not know in advance what direction an object of interest may first appear, OTDAU provides two helpful features:
The UFODAP Project utilizes a number of system components from those developed for the UFO Data Acquisition System (UFODAS).
The system is architected to provide for a very flexible combination of Data Acquisition Units (DAUs) and the Mission Control software (MC). The functionality of a DAU is defined by its hardware and software. Currentlly, there are two types of DAUs -- OTDAU which provides f
MC can be configured to recieve real-time data from up to six DAUs. It displays the geolocation of each DAU on a scalable, continuously updated map.
If two DAUs are OTDAUs and their cameras lock onto a common object, then MC can triangulate the target, displaying its location, altitude, speed and size.
MC can display real-time moving plots of all data received from any connected MSDAU.
Alternately, the MC can display the RF spectrum generated by any MSDAU and show anomalous peaks of RF power above a selected baseline.
Each MSDAU can be independently set to scan any portion of the RF spectrum from 24MHz to 1.7GHz.
Mission Control provides atmospheric conditions surrounding each geolocated DAU.
Weather data may be saved to a CSV format file by selecting the associated Recording Option. This saves all weather parameters at the time a trigger condition occurs, which starts all recording options.
Mission Control can also displays a list of aircraft information for all flights within a 10 mile on-a-side area surrounding DAU1.
Aircraft flight information is listed for the first six flights of the total flight data available. Flight data includes each aircraft’s call sign, time of last position measurement, whether it is on the ground or in the air (Surface Report), absolute (Geometric) altitu
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