The German police Bavarian Helicopter Squadron will begin flight tests in the next six weeks of a prototype of EADS' Automatic Target Recognition (ATR)system, which the police hope will enhance their nighttime search capability. The system, under development since 1997, is also intended for military uses, but will be ready in these applications "in four to five years", says EADS systems technology project leader Peter Hurst.

The Bavarian police are buying three of the systems and intend to use them in conjunction with LEO II-forward looking infra-red systems on Eurocopter EC135 helicopters, says Joachim Walzik, deputy chief of the helicopter squadron.

The ATR computer, which consists of off-the-shelf components, will search for and identify objects by comparing sensor images with stored data and matching the objects, which will then be marked by coloured symbols or acoustic signals. The system could ultimately be capable of providing obstacle warnings, says EADS.

Source: Flight International