Drowning in Drone Video, Military Asks ESPN for Help

Air Force trying to figure out how to sort through its video

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 20, 2012 7:39 AM CST | Updated Dec 20, 2012 8:06 AM CST

(Newser) – The Air Force has more video footage from drone missions than it knows what to do with, so it's turning to the experts in video analysis: ESPN. These days, drones fly a lot of what the Air Force calls "pattern of life" surveillance missions, recording compounds for days on end. These and other drones have left the Air Force with more footage than analysts can reasonably watch (some 327,384 hours in 2011, to be exact). So it turned to the cable network to see how it sorts through the mountains of game footage it receives every day, USA Today reports.

"They're looking at anything and everything they can right now," says the commander of a video monitoring unit. Sadly, ESPN didn't have the magical technological solution the military was hoping for, but it has been sharing its expertise, particularly around training. The holy grail, according to one surveillance honcho: A tool that would allow the military to "go back and say, 'How many times has this vehicle appeared in this geographic area over the last 30 days?' and it automatically searches volumes of full-motion video."

A student pilot and sensor operator man the controls of a MQ-9 Reaper in a ground-based cockpit during a training mission flown from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York.
A student pilot and sensor operator man the controls of a MQ-9 Reaper in a ground-based cockpit during a training mission flown from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York.   (AP Photo/TSgt Ricky Best, Defense Department)
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