display, freeform optics, image post processing, Large field of view, optical design, optical sensors, optics, panoramic optic, virtual reality
Natural vision of humans provides very large field-of-view (FOV), about 200 degrees horizontally by 150 degrees vertically. However, in many tactical and surveillance operations aided vision is required, for example, under low light level, battlefield obscuration, cluttered environments as well as against difficult and camouflaged targets. Various technologies and capabilities have been developed and fielded to address these challenges. Unfortunately, the FOV of all these capabilities is still very limited. For example, the direct-view Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle (GPNVG) was equipped with four channels of image intensifying tube-optics, only to provide a horizontal FOV of 97 degrees and a vertical FOV of 40 degrees. This limit also applies to air (e.g. drones), land (e.g. Surveillance cameras, CCTV, driver assistance system) and sea (e.g. panoramic view for close surveillance) sensor platforms. As aided vision with panoramic visual field is believed to provide overmatching advantages in both surveillance and tactical operations in future complex battlespace, it is important that NATO assesses its technological feasibility to maintain technological awareness.
The proposed exploratory team will allow the participants to share their expertise and vision on the subject and leverage from their national activities related to panoramic vision systems as well as the previous NATO activities in the area. It will allow establishing common topics of interest to develop a future collaboration activity between NATO countries. As the NATO defence community is highly dependent on sensors for detection, identification and tracking of red and blue forces to determine the course of actions, it is essential to investigate the potential application of any emerging domain. Practically, it could result in the development of more performant systems or the provision of guidance on sensing capabilities to the war-fighters. Moreover, freeform optic is a growing technology that can improve the performances of panoramic systems.
In 2017, a workshop was held (SET-248) to bring together in the field of optical design, panoramic optics and displays among the NATO countries to share their vision and knowledge on the current advancement in the area of panoramic vision and their potential application to military systems. At the workshop, relevant optical design, sensors, data processing technique and applications as well as their limitations were identified and discussed. The outcome of the workshop clearly showed that further exploitation and technical discussion in a coordinated manner are required to fully assess its feasibility and applications.
In 2018, a presentation was held (42nd STO SET PBM) on freeform optic to highlight the new opportunities of this technology: making smaller systems with more complex optics.
The objective of the ET is to allow participants to share their expertise, knowledge and vision on the current advancement in the area on panoramic vision systems and to identify opportunities for coordinated collaborative development and assessment within a TG. These topics may include, but not limited to: (i) Designs; (ii) Technologies; (iii) Required performance. The potential outcome of this exploratory team is a TAP and a TOR of a potential RTG related to technologies, requirement and capacities of panoramic vision systems for military applications. Recent developments in freeform optics will be investigated to be applied to panoramic Vision. Ability to combine compactness and optical performances with panoramic systems is expected.