Exelis VIS Newsletter – Fall 2014

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dPlan Simplifies UAV Surveillance Mission Planning

  When an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operator plans a surveillance mission, success depends on many variables. The mission plan must weigh the capabilities of the UAV and its sensor package against the quality of information required at each target location. After all, some surveillance tasks are more demanding than others and may require a clearer look.

The intelligence community developed NIIRS (National Image Interpretability Rating Scale) to quantify what information may or may not be extracted from an image. Analysts use NIIRS to communicate the level of image quality they need to perform a specific intelligence task. An optimized mission plan will put the right UAV payload on a route that maximizes the quantity and quality of information (i.e., high NIIRS) collected while minimizing the cost of flight operations.

Marisa Gioioso, a Research Scientist at Milcord LLC, has been working on a product called dPlan that she says simplifies this process. “With dPlan, all the factors that need to be considered, like route, availability and priority of the target, and the NIIRS needed, are combined into one cost function,” said Gioioso. “Using the cost function, dPlan will find the optimal route describing where all of the UAVs in a mission should go, and in what order. It will also do a cost-benefit analysis to indicate if the UAV cannot reach all targets, which target might be the lowest cost to remove from the plan, or whether another UAV can visit the target instead.”

Milcord and Exelis VIS have been working together on dPlan. Milcord is providing the web-based user interface and the UAV optimization/routing algorithm (a fast genetic algorithm and fitness function) and Exelis is providing analytical services that perform the NIIRS and line-of-sight (target access) calculations. “The user specifies the target’s location, time window and what NIIRS is needed. The user may have intelligence that suggests a target is a tank, so they know they will need, say, a NIIRS 5 image in order to confirm it,” explains Gioioso.

“dPlan will send the user’s required NIIRS value, as well as flight altitude and other details to ENVI Services Engine (ESE), and then ESE sends back a map indicating line of sight and NIIRS values for a grid of points surrounding the target location. Based on that grid, dPlan decides which UAV to assign to that target and where to put the waypoint. So if the user only requires a NIIRS 1 (least resolution) for a particular target, then the UAV does not have to fly as close and can still get a good enough picture of the target while minimizing fuel consumption. But if a NIIRS 9 is required, the UAV may need to fly directly overhead and/or change altitude.” In the end, this collaboration combines the expertise from both companies in an easy-to-use web application that can scale to any mission size. To see dPlan in action, check out this webinar

ENVI Just Got Smarter

Michael Smith, Exelis VIS Software Architect, takes us under the hood of the software’s latest version release.

Not only does ENVI 5.2 include new features and functionality like a Spatio Temporal Analysis tool that lets you view and analyze images over space and time, and a Full Motion Video player that lets you work with video in a geospatial context, but ENVI is also ready, willing, and able to be easily deployed and work in the cloud.  

“About two years ago we were reworking how we packaged our analytics and how we exposed a programming API to get to those analytics. At the same time, we were standing up the plumbing necessary to access both IDL and ENVI algorithms using an enterprise interface,” said Smith. “That’s when we had one of those “‘ah ha moments.’” Smith explains that was the realization that there were similarities in the way you specify analytics on the desktop and how they need to be accessed in the cloud. “It wasn’t much of a reach for us to bring those two things together,” said Smith.

That work has culminated with the 5.2 release that debuts ENVITasks. “In ENVI 5.2, the tried and true analytics of ENVI, as well as many brand new ones, are equally accessible and equally at home running on the desktop or running on a server somewhere out in the cloud,” said Smith. There are now nearly 60 ENVITasks that provide out-of-the-box processing functionality for the cloud. Here's a demo that shows an example of what an implementation of ENVI Analytics in the Cloud could look like.

ENVI 5.2 builds on the ENVI legacy of providing phenomenal data support with new data/sensor support so you can work with even more formats like NetCDF-4 and sensors such as WorldView-3 and SkySat-1. There was also a recent version release of IDL – 8.4, that includes new code generation from interactive graphics, new code coverage tools and more. Check out what’s new in IDL.

A New Way to Discover Your Data

  Exelis and Airbus Defence and Space have teamed up to offer users of ENVI image analysis software seamless access to the Airbus DS catalog of satellite imagery. With easy access to the worldwide Airbus DS archive, ENVI users save time on mission and project planning with the ability to discover needed data and preview images without leaving the ENVI environment.

Attend our upcoming webinar and see how you can:

  • Discover the data you need and preview geo-located thumbnails
  • Quickly access high-quality Airbus DS imagery
  • Perform advanced geospatial analytics and get the information you need to make better decisions
  • Qualify for a voucher for $1,300/1,000€ or more of imagery from Airbus DS with a new ENVI, ENVI SARscape, or ENVI LiDAR purchase

Register for the webinar here .

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Check out how ENVI and IDL were used to help Halifax Water map impervious surfaces to overhaul their billing structure.


ENVI 5.2
ENVI 5.2 | What's it all about?

ENVI Full Motion Video Demo

ENVI Spatio Temporal Analysis Demo

ENVI in the Cloud
Understanding ENVI Analytics in the Cloud

ENVI Analytics in the Cloud Demo


What's New in ENVI 5.2
This webinar will focus on the new features and functionality of ENVI 5.2 that will help you do more with your geospatial data than ever before.

October 29, 2014 | Register Now

Exelis and Airbus Defence and Space Modernize the Way Data is Discovered
This webinar will cover the Exelis and Airbus Defence and Space partnership that gives ENVI users seamless access to the Airbus DS catalog of satellite imagery and can help save time on mission and project planning.

November 13, 2014, 2014 | Register Now


Geospatial Analytics in the Cloud: Successful Application Scenarios
This webinar focuses on how you can shorten the time between data collection and decision-making with Geospatial Analytics in the Cloud.

Exelis and DigitalGlobe: From Data to Decisions
This webinar looks at how DigitalGlobe and Exelis have developed world class optical imaging systems and how this puts ENVI users in a position to take advantage of the unique spectral and spatial capabilities of these sensors.

View all recorded webinars .


Imagery Speaks
Creating a Custom Three-Dimensional Visualization with ENVI + IDL

Scalable Image Analysis for Tomorrow and Beyond

IDL Data Point
ENVITask: New and Improved in ENVI 5.2

What I Love About the IDL Language


See all Exelis events and training .

Exploring ENVI 5
November 4–6, 2014 — Gilching, Germany

Application Development with IDL I
November 5–7, 2014 — Bracknell, UK

Exploring ENVI
November 5–7, 2014 — Boulder CO

Application Development with IDL I
November 11–13, 2014 — Milan, Italy

Application Development with IDL II
November 18–20, 2014 — Milan, Italy

Programming ENVI and IDL
November 18–20, 2014 — Gilching, Germany

Exploring ENVI
November 18–20, 2014 — Bracknell, UK

Extending ENVI with IDL
November 25–27, 2014 — Milan, Italy

ENVI SARscape Introduction
November 26–27, 2014 — Gilching, Germany

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