Lockheed develops map-making solution

Lockheed Martin Management and Data Systems this month began pulling together components for a prototype map-making system that soldiers traveling in rugged all-purpose vehicles could use to create accurate maps within minutes.

The prototype - being developed with Lockheed Martin money and not at the federal government's request - precedes a procurement expected within the next two fiscal years in which the Army will buy mobile map-making and terrain-analysis systems to be installed in dozens of High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) or Humvees.

The contract is not guaranteed to go to Lockheed Martin according to Dan Visone software team leader for the Combat Terrain Information Systems (CTIS) unit of the Army Topographic Engineering Center. Sources familiar with work at CTIS - where Lockheed Martin holds a systems engineering and integration contract - said the prototype could give the company a stepping stone to the contract however. "They're hoping to leverage themselves into getting [the contract] " one source said.

John Shepherd staff systems engineer for Lockheed Martin acknowledged that the prototype could help the company when procurement time rolls around. But the prototype will be largely proof of what Lockheed Martin can do he said. "We believe that by doing this we can demonstrate our commitment in the field....

We create for ourselves a piece of equipment that we can use at our discretion to demonstrate capability."As part of its integration and engineering contract with CTIS Lockheed Martin last year provided two prototype Humvee-based map-making systems to the Army. The new prototype that the company is working on however will include more up-to-date components that will offer enhancements that include greater processing speeds more storage and perhaps most importantly a satellite connection for receiving fresh imagery or data quickly.

The Vision

The experiment being envisioned would involve a ground team that can capture images transmitted by satellites or from military sources on the ground and use those images to determine the lay of the terrain in the battlefield as well as where roads bridges troops buildings and other features lie.

From there the team can boil the information down into 2-D paper maps or 3-D electronic maps that can be distributed to commanders or other ground forces during a mission - military or humanitarian.

"The [geographic information system] gives them the ability to model the terrain in virtual 3-D " said Dana Paxson federal marketing coordinator for Environmental Systems Research Institute Inc. whose GIS software will be the heart of the map-making system.

ERDAS Inc. is supplying the software that the prototype system will use to process imagery before the ground team creates its final map products. Paxson said the prototype thanks to a Lockheed Martin-developed graphical user interface that puts a single face on the ESRI product and the ERDAS product will make the system easy enough for almost any soldier to use. In that respect the average G.I. Joe - not just a highly trained "G.I.S. Joe" - would be able to use the system she said.

Paper maps produced by the system would materialize from a 24-inch high-resolution bubble-jet color plotter made by CalComp Technology Inc. a publicly traded company that is owned mostly by Lockheed Martin. The system also will include a high-resolution color scanner by Tangent Imaging Systems.

As for processing power that will be supplied by a Sun Microsystems Inc. UltraSPARC 2 computer provided by GTE Government Systems Corp. which also is supplying the uninterruptible power supply systems for the prototype.

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