Sentient Vision Systems‘ Visual Detection and Ranging (ViDAR) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) system will be trialed aboard the Seahawk naval helicopter by manufacturer Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company.
Developed by Sentient in Melbourne, Australia, the ViDAR is a persistent wide area imaging system based on software designed to autonomously detect, geo-locate, track and classify objects over vast areas of sea and terrain below an aircraft or Unmanned Aerial System (UAS).
Lockheed Martin will demonstrate ViDAR’s capabilities for potential use aboard the MH-60R and MH-60S Seahawk helicopters.
ViDAR employs Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to detect and classify targets in the imagery stream from an Electro-Optic or Infrared (EO/IR) sensor that would be invisible or very hard to spot for a human operator. It can cover a designated search area up to 30 times faster than an aircraft without ViDAR. Lockheed Martin has integrated some top-level aspects of ViDAR in an MH-60R as a prototype fit to demonstrate this cutting-edge capability.
Lockheed Martin will work with Sentient to explore and further evolve the capability of the ViDAR system. A successful trial could see this Australian ISR system integrated with the sensor suite on the MH-60R Seahawk, which is also operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
Joe North, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said Sentient’s ViDAR system illustrates the strength and resilience of Australia’s sovereign defense industry capability, which underpins Lockheed Martin’s approach to growing Australian sovereign industrial capability:
“Lockheed Martin Australia’s approach of incubating innovation and growing SME capability is helping to create the conditions and the opportunities to build both capability and operational resilience needed for companies like Sentient to be able to compete on the world stage, and in this case with the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.
“Sentient Vision Systems is a global leader in ISR technology solutions and we are proud to have had a long association, initially through R&D integration and testing of their Kestrel detection software for future rotary wing capability and potentially now with ViDAR as well.“
Paul Boxer, Managing Director of Sentient Vision Systems, welcomed Lockheed Martin’s decision to explore the potential for the ViDAR system. And he reaffirmed the critical importance of such industry partnerships to realizing global export opportunities for Australian industry:
“We are excited about the potential for ViDAR to be integrated with sensor suites across Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk platforms globally as this represents a significant opportunity for Sentient. We look forward to working closely with their engineers to complete the testing, development and integration validation phases for the system.
“Australia has world-class innovators, but it is through partnerships with global technology companies like Lockheed Martin that Australian industry can realize global export opportunities for cutting-edge solutions.”
The ViDAR testing, development and integration validation program has seen teams from Sentient and Lockheed Martin in Australia and around the world develop a tailored solution to enhance the capabilities of the MH-60R and MH-60S while also advancing Australian sovereign defense industry capability.
The world’s first Optical Radar, ViDAR is currently used by many agencies and forces including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard for a broad range of search missions including search and rescue, illegal fishing, counter narcotics and maritime security.