Android And iOS Apps For Military Drone Control Being Developed

The military is looking into building apps on the Android and iOS platforms to let soldiers use cheaper, commercial products out in the field. The plan is that these commercial products like iPad or Android tablets will be employed to help with reconnaissance. Soldiers could send valuable information to command units much more quickly and even remotely control cameras on board military drones.

Firms like Harris and Intelligent Software Solutions (ISS) have been contracted to build these military Android and iOS apps. Harris is working on an app that allows the user to remotely control the camera on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) to find enemy weapons or troops by using an iPad to view what the UAV finds. ISS is preparing an app for the iPhone and Android phones that tells the soldier what bombings have occurred and where the fighting is taking place. It also sends the data to the command center to help with tactical decisions. Harris is also developing an app for facial recognition during an interrogation to match and identify the suspect within a system. This would require less risk for soldiers who must scout ahead for enemy positions and relay that information back.
The use of commercial products has not been high in the past because of the technological limitations of previous devices. The military feels that the current generation of products has good enough cameras and screens to provide reliable information. The overall cost of using commercial products is an attractive facet as well. Since many soldiers will have experience operating these products in their civilian life, so there isn’t a long training time required for soldiers to learn how to use them. Tablets and phones could range from $300 to $800 a piece, but that’s miniscule compared to $10,000 or more for a military spec piece of equipment.
“We’ve seen first-hand what happens to a laptop used in the desert [in combat], so there’s going to be some problem with…these [consumer handheld] devices that are fairly inexpensive and almost disposable,” said ISS vice president of national systems, Rob Rogers. “But if they break or get dust in them, you don’t have to shell out a lot to replace them. It’s a trade-off. I would anticipate a lot of broken Androids and iPhones,” Rogers says. That problem could be mediated with some tough cases or protection. We’ve all seen some of the rugged and bulky cases you can purchase for your mobile phones now, most of them look like they’re ready for military deployment already.

By Rue Liu

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