NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed an imaging system suitable for use in a periscope head that yields a non-rotating 360-degree view of the surrounding environment. With conventional periscopes, the instantaneous field of view (FOV) is limited by the entrance aperture, so the user sees an apparent tunnel. Wide-angle coverage has been attempted using multiple imagers but state-of-the-art systems cannot simultaneously provide narrow- and wide-FOV scene visualization.

The imaging system improves upon these systems by using multiple camera arrays, each of which encloses a combination of wide-FOV imagers and narrow-FOV imagers. Because this imaging system displays a full 360-degree seamless FOV and allows the user to select regions for higher-resolution inspection, it can simultaneously carry out a number of diverse visual tasks including surveillance, vision-based navigation, automatic target recognition, and tracking.

The high-resolution complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) imaging system comprises two major elements: a sensor head for scene acquisition and a control apparatus with distributed processors and software for device control, data handling, and display.

The sensor head is configured as a cylinder suitable for use on the existing mast of conventional periscopes and has seven decks. Each deck encloses a combination of wide-FOV CMOS imagers and narrow-FOV CMOS imagers. The control apparatus includes four TZI processors, one FFI processor, one host processor, and an optional automatic target recognition (ATR) processor for high-speed, high-precision target detection, identification, and tracking.

The image processing and system-level control electronics are instantiated in six conventional PC104 stacks (one for each processor) and contained in a 10 × 50 × 20-cm housing with a footprint approximately the size of a laptop computer. The display system is a computer workstation hosting an interactive graphical user interface that allows the user to exercise all of the operational states of the system (e.g., search, tracking, display, etc.).

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