Technology

Kamikaze Cameras

By Laura WrightJan 2, 2004 6:00 AM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news
 

As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Chuck Stancil often wished for an instant bird’s-eye view of the enemy. As an engineer at Georgia Tech Research Institute, he is satisfying that wish. Stancil bought a $70 camera lens, patched it together with an imaging chip and a radio-frequency transmitter, and attached a parachute.

Then he packed the whole thing into an 81-millimeter artillery shell. The resulting “reconnaissance round” is fitted with a timer that signals the capsule to open when it reaches 1,800 feet above the target. As the round floats down, it snaps four to five images and transmits them back to a soldier’s computer. The resolution is good enough to discern individual people.

The whole process, from load to image retrieval, takes about two minutes. “It will be a great advantage for a soldier when he can do recon before walking into a trap,” Stancil says. He estimates the device could be mass produced for as little as $700.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!

Subscribe

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Join
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

 
Subscribe
To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2022 Kalmbach Media Co.