Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Finding Needles in Haystacks To Be Modernized - Hailed As Important Breakthrough
A Secret Location
DARPA is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a US government organization that performs research in military technology. One of their current projects, the Fine Detail Optical Surveillance (FDOS), hopes to develop optical equipment sensitive enough to literally find “a needle by moving along the surface of a haystack.” That phrase is actually in the specs:
The program can be described as developing the technology and systems analogous to that required for rapid imaging and identification, without the need for scanning or focusing of the optical receiver, of a needle, by moving along the surface of a haystack, where the location and type of needle in the haystack is uncertain. The amount of money budgeted for the program to date is $438 million, excluding the cost of the drone aircraft (see photo insert), that will be used to carry the device. The cost of each drone is approximately $26 million and 30 of the aircraft already are on order.
An unauthorized spokesperson for the agency, who was not authorized to speak, said the new device, when completed, would be a significant discovery for all those people in the world who have lost needles in haystacks, or their heirs, who inherited the haystacks.
Untold tons of hay now sit moldering and unusable for fear that an animal fed the hay might choke on the needle or suffer injuries to its digestive tract.
Another interesting off-shoot of the research will be the effort to determine why so many needles are lost in haystacks, when compared to pins or livestock, for example. A team of scientists from 7 universities will undertake to answer this question with the stimulus of a $115 million grant from NASA. That puts the total project costs at $1.3 billion but will finally resolve a problem that has been a scourge in the farming and livestock industry for more than 200 years.