Watch out, kids, because surveillance drones are about to get an upgrade. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have developed what’s called the Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (ARGUS), and it’s said to be the most advanced surveillance system in the sky with a price tag of $18.5 million for the program.
The ARGUS camera system can be attached to the main pod of a drone, and once in action, the camera can capture images at 20,000 feet with a resolution of 1.8 gigapixels — so high-res in fact, that you can see what color shirt a pedestrian is wearing. It can’t quite make out facial features, but it’s able to spot a six-inch object within a 10-mile radius.
While DARPA doesn’t want to give anything away, they at least say that the imaging system consists of a collection of 368 sensors that are the same found in modern smartphones, but it’s the processing power that really makes the ARGUS stand out. The camera can also stream around 1 million terabytes of video, which is around 5,000 hours of HD footage per day.
Whether the ARGUS is currently deployed right now is unknown, and we can’t see what the camera looks like either. Overall, DARPA is keeping quiet on any future implementations of the imaging system, and they’re not telling us exactly how they can stream an exabyte of video per day. There’s got to be some crazy processing power on board, for which we know nothing about at this point.