The U.S. Army is splashing out $48.2 million to purchase a number of devices capable of detecting suicide bombers at 100 yards.
Dubbed the “CounterBomber,” the system – manufactured by SAIC – has already been tested and deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to Wired, the $300,000 CounterBomber identifies insurgents at a distance using two video cameras and low-level radar beams. The beams are then reflected back to a computer, which analyzes the signals in a series of algorithms.
“We call it our ‘secret sauce. It compares the radar return signal to an extensive library of normal responses [and physiques],” explains SAIC exec Rick Thornton.
“[Essentially], we built a system so anyone coming out of chow hall can operate it. As long as you’re not color blind, you can do it.”
Indeed, the system sounds a red alert if an anomalous response is detected – giving soldiers ample time to respond to a potential threat.
Interestingly enough, the CounterBomber doesn’t employ x-ray technology, so unlike the controversial and intrusive TSA machines, privacy concerns are mostly nonexistent.
Still, as Wired’s Lena Groeger emphasizes, while the CounterBomber may be a somewhat effective starting point, the U.S. military has already spent billions of dollars attempting to counter IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.
“IEDs don’t just come strapped onto a suicide bomber’s chest, either – these make-shift weapons turn up in vehicles, buried underground, or on the roadside,” Groeger writes.
“Detecting a person-borne IED is just a small part of a much wider picture, one the Pentagon has poured billions of dollars into with only mixed results. [Clearly], this is one tough problem to solve. Secret sauce just might not cut it.”