Support: August 29, 2004

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The U.S. Army is now using 3-D cameras to capture information on how enemy troops operate. The U.S. Army has long ago turned CSI (crime scene investigation) into a weapon. The crimes are the sites of ambushes, or even battles, or enemy safe houses that have been raided, or locations where enemy fighters have set up weapons like rocket launchers or mortars. In peacetime, accidents of all kinds get the CSI treatment. 

What the military CSI are looking for is information, and the methods used to date have been taken largely from civilian police departments. The army has its own criminal investigators for normal crimes committed by American troops. The army also uses standard police equipment and techniques for these investigations. But over the years, the idea of applying the collecting of evidence in great detail has grown. The concept of incident investigation is actually an old military practice, going back over a century. But as more tools became available, more detail is collected, and more can be done with the information. Thus the U.S. Army trying out $30,000 (for black and white, $40,000 for color) 3-D cameras to capture highly detailed three dimensional computer images of a indoor or outdoor area. The DeltaSphere-3000 camera is put on a tripod, hooked up to a laptop computer and allowed to spend 5-30 minutes (depending on resolution desired) to capture the 3-D image. The device used LIDAR (Laser Radar) to do this. You can annotate the image, insert other objects into it (the paths of bullets), or use a model forming machine to build a solid scale model of the scene. This sort of thing is popular in trials. 

The analysts who examine all this evidence are looking for something friendly troops could have done to either avoid injury, or get the drop on enemy troops. You find, for example, that a little extra armor in certain parts of vehicles will disproportionately reduce injuries. Or that having combat troops move in a slightly different way will also reduce casualties. Its a matter of gaining an edge, or many small edges. It adds up in combat, and brings victory faster, at less cost.

 


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