The ground sensor system is SPAN, or Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network. It is incorporated with small devices that harvest energy from its surrounding environment, re-charges itself and only transmits when there is a sensor reading of concern.
"SPAN is essentially a network of unobtrusive sensor nodes small enough to fit into the palm of your hand," said Macy W. Summers, vice president with Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. "Linking SPAN sensors with UAVs provides a cost-effective solution that can support many types of missions, including force protection, border surveillance and regulatory and treaty compliance."
Lockheed said combining SPAN with UAVs lowers the cost of monitoring a specific area since the SPAN networks automatically prompt UAV sensors.
"Each node, once placed on or in the ground in a mesh arrangement, transmits relevant data to the next node, and so on, until the information is ultimately forwarded to a wide area communications link," Lockheed said. "During a UAV mission, the ground network automatically prompts the UAV's high precision sensors to further characterize the alert without the need for a remote analyst.
"This linked solution enables UAV operators to focus on identified threats instead of loitering or flying pre-set mission profiles waiting for potential threats."