GISCafe Weekly Review May 9th, 2024

At the forefront of satellite technology innovation, Capella Space announced its new automated Vessel Classification capability at the 2024 GeoINT Symposium in Kissimmee, Florida. This announcement not only underscores Capella’s leadership in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery but also highlights its strategic collaboration with industry leaders like Preligens and EMSI to enhance geospatial intelligence applications.

Revolutionary Vessel Classification Technology

David Hemphill, Senior Product Manager at Capella Space, explained the functionality and strategic importance of the new Vessel Classification system. Developed using Capella’s high-resolution SAR imagery, this system is capable of identifying and classifying maritime vessels into seven distinct categories. This includes three military types—surface warships, submarines, and aircraft carriers—as well as several commercial vessel types such as tankers.

Capella Space Vessel Classification identifies a variety of commercial and military vessels regardless of cloud cover in Dinghai, China.

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In a recent interview at Xponential 2024 Conference, Gord Echlin, Director of Business Development for Director of Business Development at Calian, shared insights into the company’s cutting-edge developments in GNSS technology and its impact across various sectors.

Calian: A Multifaceted Enterprise

Calian stands out as a substantial multi-sector entity engaged in defense, satellite systems, and health sectors, among others. Originally known as Tallysman Wireless, the division Echlin represents specializes in GNSS antennas, smart antennas, and telematic systems.

Street cleaning Robot —
Robot using Dual Band High Precision Smart GNSS Antenna for street maintenance audit history

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At the recent Xponential 2024 Conference, I had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating world of underwater robotics with two leading figures in the field: Neil Manning, CEO of Cellula Robotics, and Robert Judd, Chief Operating Officer of Metron. Both companies are at the forefront of technological advancements that could redefine how we explore and monitor the world’s waters.

Metron: Pioneers in Sensor Processing, Advanced Mathematics and Autonomous Systems

Metron, a seasoned player in the defense sector, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Originating from the expertise of two mathematicians, the company has significantly expanded to over 200 employees. The primary focus of the Company today lies in analytics, autonomy, sensor processing, data fusion and target tracking. The multi-domain expertise was a significant differentiator in developing sophisticated mission planning and advanced software systems for defense applications.

Robert Judd elaborated on Metron’s evolution, highlighting their diverse applications of mathematics and computer science. “Our largest focus is on what we call advanced mathematics, utilizing it for mission planning and other systems, mostly software that we deliver to our defense customers,” Judd said. “This encapsulates a strategic blend of AI and machine learning capabilities, which Metron has developed over four decades, predating the current AI boom.”

ANCC + Solus Long-Duration UUV – Credit: Metron Inc.

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At the GEOINT 2024 Symposium, Dr. Peter Highnam, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Critical Technologies, delivered a keynote that served as a powerful reminder of the ongoing evolution and importance of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) in contemporary defense frameworks.

Dr. Highnam, who boasts an impressive background with senior roles at DARPA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), shared insights into the advancements and applications that are shaping the future of military and defense technology. His extensive academic credentials, including a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University, underline his deep connection to the field.

Strategic Vision and Technological Priorities

Dr. Peter Highnam articulated a clear and forward-thinking strategic vision for the United States’ defense technology efforts. His discussion emphasized the dual imperatives of maintaining technological superiority and seamlessly integrating new technologies into the defense infrastructure.

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In an insightful discussion with Chad Armstrong, CEO of Shearwater Aerospace, I explored the innovative strides his company is making in the drone industry. During our interview at a recent technology conference, Armstrong shared his passion for leveraging natural phenomena to enhance drone endurance and efficiency, a pioneering approach inspired by the remarkable flight capabilities of shearwater birds.

Smart Planning module integrated with Lockheed Martin’s VCSi ground control software

Innovation Inspired by Nature

Shearwater Aerospace, not to be confused with its digital footprint at, draws its name and inspiration from the shearwater bird, known for its incredible annual migration covering 64,000 kilometers. Armstrong explained that the endurance of these birds sparked the idea to develop advanced AI-powered flight optimization and automation software aimed at significantly improving drone operational efficiency.

“Our focus has always been on endurance, emulating how birds leverage wind power to achieve astonishing feats of flight duration,” Armstrong said. This inspiration led to the development of the company’s flagship platform, Smart FlightTM, which enables a single operator to manage multiple drones simultaneously.

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