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US Air Force looks to ESPN for tips on analyzing drone footage

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drone (air force)
drone (air force)

With the rise of drone surveillance comes the logistical hurdle of watching and analyzing the staggering amount of footage they transmit — a problem the US Air Force has been trying to solve for quite some time. According to reports from USA Today, the Air Force is working with ESPN and other video analysis experts to discuss better ways to handle the ever-increasing amount of data streaming in from drones. In 2001, the Air Force received 4,806 hours of video from its drones; by last year, that number had skyrocketed to 327,384 hours. "We need to be careful we don't drown in the data," said retired Air Force lieutenant general David Deptula. To put things in perspective, locating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi required about 6,000 hours of video surveillance alone.

Although the Air Force's meetings with ESPN yielded personnel training advice and expertise rather than specific technological advances, ultimately the branch hopes for a software solution. Colonel Jeffrey Kruse told USA Today that a tool to search the archives of video by asking a question like "How many times has this vehicle appeared in this geographic area over the last 30 days?" would significantly advance the usability of drone footage. Until then, the Air Force will continue to rely on the forces of sheer manpower for drone surveillance missions.