26th August 2016
TRAILBLAZER™ improves driver and crew effectiveness by extending the field of view beyond the normal spectrum, even in adverse weather and low-light conditions. It offers a new, best-in-class driver camera sub-system for military vehicle system integrators tasked with delivering to the most demanding specifications within tight timescales and budgets.
Navigating an unfamiliar terrain safely, in a degraded visual environment, is a common challenge in the modern battlefield. When the field of view is limited and threats are unknown, total command of the road ahead and complete situational awareness are essential for success. Where primary vision is restricted, such as in armoured vehicles operating with hatches down, TRAILBLAZER’s dual-channel daylight and infrared video sensors, along with RFEL’s sophisticated image processing technology, can give the driver, crew and commander views from ahead and behind, in all weathers, day or night.
With front and rear camera units as part of the system, this high performance driver aid uses a high definition sensor and optical package to deliver multiple fields of view from within the total field of regard around the fore and aft install locations. The inclusion of a high quality, long-wave infrared camera channel extends this capability across the thermal scene. A powerful on-board processing package, including RFEL’s Digital Video Fusion algorithm, means that TRAILBLAZER delivers reliable and continuous manoeuvre capability. This includes good threat and obstacle detection, downwards, nearby and far away, and a comfortable view of the route, intuitively tuned to the human operator’s needs
Offering multiple, independent channel outputs on the network interface, TRAILBLAZER can provide video to more than one user on the platform. Each user can command views from front and rear, including wide-angle situational awareness views in addition to driving views and, by exploiting the underlying higher resolution of the raw sensor, a high quality digital zoom capability. This can aid the driver in terrain negotiation and obstacle avoidance, route selection and improve manoeuvrability, whilst other crewmembers can assist with surveillance tasks in parallel to ensure safe and effective operation. This array of data streams need not swamp the platform’s available bandwidth either: output channels can be capped, fixed or shared over the available bandwidth, leaving the integrator fully in control of operating margins and reliability.
Integration of TRAILBLAZER is made as flexible as possible. The product has two complementary interfaces. The first is a native digital video HD-SDI output, requiring only simple coaxial cabling and a point-to-point installation to create a closed circuit driving aid, including connectivity to the rear view unit. The second is GVA compliant DEF STAN 00-082 VIVOE (Vetronics Infrastructure for Video Over Ethernet) streaming interface, designed specifically to support the new breed of networked video vehicle electronics (Vetronics) architectures, such as the UK’s GVA. With their own respective control interfaces, these options can be used separately, or simultaneously, without impact on their individual performance. For instance: as a closed-circuit driver aid with a network output to provide situational awareness to other crew members, or within a purely GVA networked installation that features HD-SDI interfaced legacy displays. Purely GVA fit-outs do not need to compromise on latency either, as the primary driving stream assures ultra-low-latency performance through its use of FPGA hardware powered Ethernet interfaces.
As world-leaders in efficient and real-time video processing, RFEL’s products benefit from in-house and award-winning expertise. TRAILBLAZER incorporates RFEL’s multi-resolution advanced Digital Video Fusion. This technique is superior to common blending, averaging and overlay approaches typically taken to make use of thermal scene data within an otherwise obscured daylight field of view. RFEL’s algorithm intelligently generates a composite output video stream on a pixel-by-pixel basis. This means no loss of higher resolution features from any one sensor; it means no reduction in colour content due to bland and uniform thermal regions; and it means a truly intuitive augmented view of the widest spectrum of scenery data. This is further enhanced by pre-processing techniques such as contrast enhancement and, optionally, high frequency Digital Stabilisation and/or customisable pseudo-colour highlighting.
Wayne Cranwell, RFEL’s Video Processing Business Development lead, concluded, “We believe TRAILBLAZER is going to be game-changing on technical merit alone, but also consider that RFEL’s position as a UK SME supplier offers compelling benefits in terms of cost and innovation. In any case, as a turn-key solution, it will bring this capability within the scope of a broad range of armoured and specialist military vehicles, in addition to emergency responder or industrial vehicles upgrades or new designs.”