During the Obama administration, the United States has drastically increased its drone program, as it’s viewed as information-gathering tool that doesn’t put U.S. military personnel in danger.
Drones typically have a camera mounted on them which runs continuously, sending a video feed back to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where it’s processed. The amount of video coming in has increased from 4,806 hours in 2001 to 327,384 last year, and recently the Air Force turned to ESPN to glean some information on how to parse through all that live-captured imagery, according to USA Today.
Currently, that video is viewed by human eyeballs for categorization. However, what the military would like to be able to do is automate the process, so, for instance, specific objects could be tracked and searched for within a video.
“The real value added would be if I could have that tool go back and say, ‘How many times has this vehicle appeared in this geographic area over the last 30 days?’ and it automatically searches volumes of full-motion video,” Col. Jeffrey Kruse told the newspaper.
Although the Air Force’s visit to ESPN did not yield any such technological breakthroughs it “helped in developing training and expertise,” according to the Air Force.
So, the moral of this story may be to not mess with ESPN. They have friends in high places — literally.