Machine Design

Ground imager could replace covert operatives

A remotely operated imaging sensor able to pinpoint suspected terrorists from 5 km away is among the latest in covert surveillance equipment.

The Israeli-made MUGI (Mini Unattended Ground Imager) scans with no external movement and extends only 4 in. above ground when buried.

The Mini Unattended Ground Imager (MUGI) is a multispectral, mediumrange surveillance system designed to detect, identify, and target individuals on the move. Such forward-deployed, ground-based sensors provide a level of imagery not possible with unmanned aerial vehicles. "Asymmetrical, antiterror war is becoming increasingly covert. Since terrorists operate in the shadows, we must come up with covert, constant, and persistent means of tracking and targeting them," says Israel Kasher, president and chief executive of Seraphim Optronika, the sensor's Israeli manufacturer.

The sensors are designed to relieve covert operatives who provide the same kind of visuals under great physiological strain and at great risk. The MUGI features a daytime color camera and nighttime infrared sensor for round-the-clock surveillance. A mechanical device within the carbon-fiber canister allows both cameras to scan horizontally and vertically, as well as zoom.

The 9-lb device can be buried, with only the viewfinder extending about 4 in. above ground. It can remain in place up to three months, powered by lithium batteries and external power packs. The only element that must remain unobstructed is a small 1.2 3.2-in. surveillance aperture. Future versions may " listen" with specially adapted acoustic triggering sensors, receive GPS updates, and include a laser designator and rangefinder.

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