“Buckeye” Helps Detect Roadside Bombs In Iraq
Soldiers’ lives may be saved as a result of a new technology that aids in the detection of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), according to experts from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Research and Development Center.
In October 2003, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker met with then-Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers and asked that the Corps of Engineers attempt to develop a system to aid in the detection of IEDs, said Bob Burkhardt, director of the Topographic Engineering Center at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ Research and Development Center.
Four months later the Corps had developed the “Buckeye,” a camera that takes high-resolution photographs from an aircraft, and was ready to test the new tool at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., said Burkhardt.
In February 2004, the Buckeye team traveled to Yuma with its newly-developed tool for a test flight, said Eric Zimmerman, chief of the Research Division at the Topographic Engineering Center.
“We collected imagery for two days. The first day there were no IEDs and the second day IEDs were present. By the morning of the third day, we were able to provide a mosaic and an analysis of where we thought IEDs may be present,” said Zimmerman.
Industry standard equipment used for imagery analysis can take days to produce a mosaic, whereas the Buckeye can produce a mosaic in 90 minutes or less, said Burkhardt.
A mosaic is a large computer-generated photograph constructed from many smaller images that allows for viewing and computer navigation of a town or an entire city from an aerial view.
In November 2004, the Buckeye was deployed to Iraq and proved to be extremely helpful in the detection of IEDs, said Burkhardt. Flyovers were performed in certain areas of Iraq where images were captured by the Buckeye and later analyzed by the Buckeye ground support team. Through these analyses, the support team was able to identify suspicious changes in areas that resulted in the identification of IEDs, said Burkhardt.
The Buckeye is not limited to one aircraft, but can be used on many different aircraft to collect imagery, said Burkhardt.
The imagery produced by the Buckeye is not only useful in the detection of IEDs, but also for situational awareness. Buckeye imagery is being incorporated into the Urban Terrain Planner, also designed by the Topographic Engineering Center, giving Soldiers an even better system to help with mapping and overall preparation, said Zimmerman.
The UTP is a digital representation of the urban environment. It is a product for mission and tactical planning, and urban fighting, said Theresa Rasmussen, team leader, source acquisition team.
“Soldiers are delighted by the performance of the Buckeye, and commanders have written asking us for more Buckeyes,” said Burkhardt.