Intelligence community wants UAVs that can identify people’s bodies from the air

ODNI's research and development arm will develop biometrics capable of identifying people from high above and long range in tough conditions.
biometrics, people, aerial, intelligence
(Getty Images)

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s research and development arm plans to develop biometrics capable of identifying people’s entire bodies from high above and long range, in a multi-year program announced Friday.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity awarded Biometric Recognition & Identification at Altitude and Range (BRIAR) research contracts to seven teams and more-focused research contracts to two more.

Software systems developed by the BRIAR program will be used by the intelligence community and Pentagon to identify people from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) even in turbulence.

“National security technologies must accurately and reliably operate under conditions that are extremely difficult for existing biometric technologies to succeed in,” said Program Manager Lars Ericson, in the announcement. “I am confident that our excellent team of research organizations, scientists and engineers will push the research forward and build technologies that are significantly ahead of the current state of the art.”


Teams that won BRIAR research contracts are: Accenture Federal Services LLC; Intelligent Automation, Inc.; Kitware, Inc.; Michigan State University; Systems & Technology Research, the University of Houston; and the University of Southern California.

Carnegie Mellon University and General Electric Research won focused research contracts that will support the BRIAR program.

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; National Institute of Standards and Technology; and the Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center, Research and Technology Integration Directorate will perform testing and evaluation for the program.

IARPA invests in high-risk research with the potential to greatly benefit the intelligence community.

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