~e; dual-use dearhunter

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Tue, 19 Feb 2002 22:39:29 -0600

  [this sci-tech piece seems like it could come from the
  Office of Strategic Influence file, but as far as i know,
  this is the genuine article relating missile-defense tech
  and not hitting that deer via age-old existing radar tech
  already in the toolkit, but thermal imaging probably would
  prove any naysayer wronger than bad, if that's possible.]

  From Wired News, available online at:

The Bullwinkle Defense System
By Charles Mandel

2:00 a.m. Feb. 18, 2002 PST
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The same Star Wars technology that the
U.S. military developed as a defense system against missiles is now 
helping Canadians in their battle against pesky wildlife.

InTransTech is using infrared photo sensors to help detect animals on
British Columbia's mountain roads in the hope it will cut back on the 
number of accidents caused by motorists slamming into deer, moose and 
other wildlife.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory pioneered the sensors originally
meant for the Star Wars program's satellites in the detection of 
incoming missiles. InTransTech, of Edmonton, Alberta, is a spinoff 
company of QWIP Technologies, the incubator used to commercialize the 
lab's technology.

While the sensors have yet to be deployed in any official military
application, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) 
believes they're a viable solution to the moose-mashings and deer 
damage that take place with disturbing regularity on the province's 

Last year, B.C. drivers reported more than 10,000 accidents involving
wildlife, resulting in about CDN$20 million worth of insurance claims.

Deer are the leading cause of crashes because they're common
throughout the province, according to Graham Gilfillan, ICBC's 
manager of material damage loss prevention.

However, he warns the more "catastrophic" collisions come from moose.
"Of course, the bigger the animal, the more likelihood of someone 
getting seriously injured or killed," Gilfillan cautions.

Moose are particularly dangerous because of their long legs, he
explains, noting that when a car plows into one of the ungainly 
mammals, it is likely to come up over the hood and right through the 
vehicle's windshield.

"In moose alone last year, we paid out close to $2 million for
accident claims in Northern B.C.," Gilfillan says.

The infrared sensors can scan several miles of road and relay warnings
to 4-by-8 foot digital signs posted along the highway. The signs will 
identify what species of animal is on the road and warn drivers to 
slow down.

The animal detectors will be field-tested in British Columbia's rugged
Kootney Mountain region in April, with production and installation 
scheduled for 2003.

Housed in trailers, the cameras scan the area for "heat signatures."
They are sensitive enough to detect heat sources from one pixel to 
the next of one, one-hundredth of a degree Celsius, according 
InTransTech's project head, Riad Chehayeb.

InTransTech's standard sensors contain some 81,900 pixels and can work
through darkness, smoke, snow, fog and rain, although precipitation 
will reduce the system's visibility.

The prototype camera system will also feature a radar gun to check
motorist speeds to determine if they're actually slowing down after 
receiving the sign's warning. Gilfillan says in Jasper National Park 
reduced speed limits were tested, resulting in 40-percent fewer 
animal kills.

"The problem with that, is you're slowing down all the traffic for the
very few times there's actually an animal on the road," Gilfillan 
says. "That affects the trucking industry.

"Our intent is to try and get people when they see the sign to say,
'This is real,' and they'll slow down, because they just don't want 
to be involved in it."

A single camera system capable of watching over several miles of road
costs CDN$50,000. In contrast, it cost $40,000 to $80,000 to fence 
about one mile of highway and far more for tunnels for the animals to 
get past fenced areas.

Gilfillan says the fences also aren't environmentally friendly to the
animals, because they have an impact on their migratory ability.

British Columbia has at least 50 trouble spots where motorists pile
into animals with some regularity that would require the signs.

Even so, Gilfillan says the problem is not as great in Canada as in
the United States. One of the Eastern states, he notes, has collision 
rates over 55,000 annually of deer and cars.

Chehayeb hopes an advanced version of the sensor will eventually warn
motorists about objects on the highway, including ice, debris and 
even road kill.

InTransTech hopes that if the B.C. test is successful it will be able
to market the sensors worldwide, reducing the number of insurance 
claims as well as the quantity of crushed animals.
Copyright (C) 1994-2002 Wired Digital Inc. All rights reserved.

  [used fairly-enough, 2oo2 ~e.org]

  the electronetwork-list
  electromagnetism / infrastructure / civilization