US Air Force to adopt Edgybees AR Technology

Above: Testing the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) in early September 2020. Source: DoD

Edgybees has been awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract for the US Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program. Edgybees will provide it geo-registration technology for real-time, full motion video footage arriving from multiple remote sensors. The technology will be integrated into the Advanced Battlefield Management System (ABMS) which is currently in development and undergoing field trials.

The Air Force’s project is part of a plan by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to build a unified combat control system that enables the integration of information coming from all sensors on the battlefield: manned and unmanned aircraft, ground vehicles, ships, satellites and even infantry. Edgybees has developed software that allows layers of digital information to be displayed on a live video feeds, such as that transmitted by drones.

The digital information can include names of streets, waypoints, distances, classification of objects and more. Thus, the software provides rich mapping and context of a given space (geo-registration). This information is based on geographic information systems (GIS), satellite imagery and digital maps, and is dynamically updated on-the-go. Combining live video with digital information improves spatial orientation and understanding of complex arenas, such as disaster or combat zones.

Ambitious goal, many doubts

The budget ceiling for the entire JADC2 project is currently stands at $950 million. The JADC2 project is designed to address a major problem: Every branch of the military currently uses a dedicated and independent communications network, which is isolated from the networks of the other branches of the US military. The DoD argues that the modern battlefield needs a close digital cooperation at the tactical level between various forces, and that the battle picture and decision-making should be made based on integration between the information coming from all available sensors.

Digital Geolocation data embedded in a Drone's Video Footage. Source: Edgybees
Digital Geolocation data embedded in a Drone’s Video Footage. Source: Edgybees

The goal is to build a cloud-like control and monitoring environment that will provide a common and unified architecture that will merge all the information coming from the field, and deliver it to all users. Such a platform would also enable the use of advanced AI and algorithmic tools to analyze the information and make better decisions.

This approach has many critics. A congressional report which was obtained by Techtime expresses concern that the technology available today is not yet ripe for such an ambitious project. The report also warns that potential rivals of the US are currently investing a lot of resources in developing tools and technologies to disrupt the digital warfare network, and so greater dependence upon it could expose the military to unexpected risks.

From Gamers to War Games

Edgybees and The US Air Force already has several existing collaborations, including field trial of the ABMS interface, performed in late August and early September 2020. In March this year, Edgybees reported that it had signed a contract with the US Air Force to implement its AR software, Argus, in manned and unmanned aircrafts such as drones, helicopters, reconnaissance aircrafts, etc.

Edgybees was founded by Adam Kaplan, Menashe Haskin and Nitai Magids. The company currently employs several dozen workers in Kfar Vitkin, Israel, and Washington, US. Initially, the company’s goal was to integrate AR technology into the worlds of gaming and sports broadcasting. However, it turned out that the market had a different center of gravity and that the technology actually has great demand among search and rescue units, the police and the military. The company reshaped its business model, and proved the effectiveness of its technology to manage help and rescue missions in Florida in 2017 following Hurricane Irma.