Military Can't Keep Up With Drone Intel

Predators produce too much video for analysts to digest
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2010 10:55 AM CST
Military Can't Keep Up With Drone Intel
The United States Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine's unmanned aircraft, the Predator B, sits on display at Fort Drum, N.Y., Thursday, June 18, 2009.   (AP/ HEATHER AINSWORTH)

The military is rushing to get more spy drones into Afghanistan’s sky, but they’ve already got more video streaming in than they can handle. All of the footage is watched live for any potential threat troops should be aware of—roughly 24 years' worth of footage was recorded in 2009. Officials had hoped to review the footage later for intelligence on long-term insurgent movements, but they've only analyzed a small fraction of the stored video, the New York Times reports.

But there’s simply too much data, so the Air Force is trying television tricks to make the footage more digestible—including a sports-style telestrator. “Imagine you are tuning in to a football game without all the graphics,” says one military tech provider. “You don’t know what the score is. You don’t know what the down is. It’s just raw video. And that’s how the guys in the military have been using it.” And the data deluge is expected to only grow: Predator drones currently carry only one camera; by 2011, drones will be able to record video in 30 directions. (Read more spy drones stories.)

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