Electronic Weapons: I Can Hear You, I Can See You, I Can Shoot You


June 25, 2007: Increasingly, and without much fanfare, robots are pulling more and more of the guard duty in combat zones. For example, except for an occasional rocket or mortar shell, U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan don't get attacked much. Unlike the Vietnam war, when skilled enemy "sapper" commandoes often got past defenses and burst into American bases, there has been nothing like that in Iraq. The main reason has been sensor systems have been largely unbeatable by an often determined enemy.

RUMS (Remote Urban Monitoring System) is one of the more notable electronic security systems in use. It uses large numbers of sensors that detect motion, sound or vibrations from feet hitting the ground. This is nothing new, nor are the multiple night vision cameras that cover the area containing the ground sensors. The new wrinkle is making this stuff more reliable. Systems like this are known for the number of false alarms they generate. RUMS has two ways to eliminate the false alarms. First, the sensors are hooked up to a computer, where software analyses sensors going off, and knows when it's likely to be a person coming through, or the wind blowing debris around. If the computer believes there is someone out there, , a human operator is summoned to check out the video, to confirm that there is something out there. At that point, you can alert troops to turn their night vision weapons sights on the threat, and do something about it. With a setup like this, one operator can monitor the perimeter security for a large base. RUMS can be used everywhere, both for perimeter security, and even inside the base, at places people are supposed to stay away from (ammo storage, high security areas, like the RUMS control room.)




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