In a significant move to modernize the U.S National Capital Region-Integrated Air Defense System (NCR-IADS), Teleidoscope, a California-based tech firm, has been awarded a contract to develop an advanced surveillance, identification, and tracking system around Washington, D.C.
The new AI-enabled system, spearheaded by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), promises a tenfold improvement in performance over the existing system, with sustainability costs halved. This cost reduction is projected to pave the way for future technological enhancements.
This development comes after Teleidoscope's successful 18-month prototype phase, which culminated in April 2023. The company, initially rooted in the commercial augmented reality sector, has since pivoted to specialize in advanced tracking and targeting software, integrating cutting-edge platforms and sensors such as EO/IR and radar.
Crucially, a $16.77M funding award provided by the Accelerate the Procurement and Fielding of Innovative Technologies (APFIT) in May has expedited the implementation timeline of the integrated camera system by several years.
The next-generation system taps into recent breakthroughs in the commercial tech sector, including computer vision, augmented reality, and machine learning, enhancing air defense operators' efficiency in detecting, identifying, and tracking aircraft. Notably, the upgrades bolster operators' capabilities to identify aircraft at longer ranges and employ warning lasers more effectively.
Additionally, the system's auto-tracking functionalities are adaptable to various full-motion-video feeds. This adaptability suggests the technology could enhance tracking capabilities for remotely piloted aircraft video feeds and has broader applicability in national defense, including defending against threats such as UAS and cruise missiles.
Lt. Col. Kurtis Engelson of the U.S. Air Force praised the collaboration between the NCR-IADS program office and DIU, emphasizing DIU's pivotal role in transitioning from prototyping to the production stage with Teleidoscope. He further highlighted the importance of the $16.7M APFIT funding, which he believes is vital for equipping the NCR's air defenders with state-of-the-art technology promptly.