Raytheon Sends Android To Battlefield

Source: http://ping.fm/1RhDX

The defense contractor is the latest–and perhaps least likely–convert to Google’s mobile platform.


Using Android software tools, Raytheon ( RTN news people ) engineers built a basic application for military personnel that combines maps with a buddy list. Raytheon calls the entire framework the Raytheon Android Tactical System, or RATS for short. Mark Bigham, a vice president of business development in Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems unit, says the company selected Android because its open-source nature made developing applications easy.

Every part of RATS is tailored for use on a battlefield. A soldier could make an unmanned plane a “buddy,” for instance, and track its progress on a map using his phone. He could then access streaming video from the plane, giving him a bird’s eye view of the area. Soldiers could also use the buddy list to trace the locations of other members of their squad.

Some RATS services stress a fast connection to the Department of Defense’s Internet-like data network. This would enable a soldier on a mission to take a picture of a suspect and send the image to military headquarters for identification. RATS includes some lightweight encryption to ensure that outsiders can’t intercept the images or video or hack into the phone’s buddy list.

Eventually, RATS devices could double as biometric scanners. A small device could snap on top of the phone’s camera and capture fingerprints, says Bigham. The photos could then be sent to an off-site facility for processing.

Most of these features have been incorporated into the basic RATS application, which Raytheon says took more than two years to build. The company expects to finalize contracts and deploy RATS in the next month or two. Bigham says the Department of Defense has expressed interest at “a very senior level” and believes that other government groups, such as the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies may sign on, too.

by Elizabeth Woyke

[via Forbes]


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