Drones to be fitted with face-recognition software

The US military will install biometric facial recognition software in drones used for surveillance and reconnaissance, the Department of Defense (DoD) has announced.

Acting on behalf of the US Air Force (USAF), the DoD has contracted tech developer RealNetworks, based in Seattle, to fit its SAFR face ID gadgetry to drones used in special operations and other specific use-cases.

“We will adapt the SAFR facial recognition platform for deployment on an autonomous sUAS [special use airspace] for special ops, ISR [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance], and other expeditionary use-cases,” said the DoD.

“This will require integrating the SAFR software with the hardware and software stack of the sUAS, including its onboard compute, communications systems, and remote controller software to enable operation in [...] communications settings, support actionable insight for remote human operators, and open the opportunity for real-time autonomous response by the robot.”

Given the vast budget of the US military – the USAF alone is estimated by Statista to have had $228 billion allocated to it last year, with a similar amount requested for 2023 – the DoD appears to have gotten the surveillance technology at a bargain, well shy of a cool million.

The contract stipulates that RealNetworks will be paid $729,056 for its services. At the time of writing, it does not appear that the recon technology will be fitted to combat drones.

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