IARPA awards contracts for whole-body biometric identification
The research and development arm of the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced a tranche of contracts awarded to universities and private enterprises to explore ‘whole-body’ biometric identification.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) unveiled the contracts as a continuation of the ‘Biometric Recognition & Identification at Altitude and Range’ (BRIAR) program. The project will develop technology that enables the identification and recognition of individuals under challenging conditions, such as from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones), at far distances, and through distortions caused by atmospheric turbulence, according to a press release issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
The BRIAR research contracts were awarded to private enterprises Accenture Federal Services, Intelligent Automation, and Kitware, and universities such as Michigan State University, the University of Houston, and the University of Southern California to address the full range of research objectives. Focused research grants were given to teams from Carnegie Mellon University and General Electric Research.
“National security technologies must accurately and reliably operate under conditions that are extremely difficult for existing biometric technologies to succeed in,” says BRIAR Program Manager Lars Ericson. “I am confident that our excellent team of research organizations, scientists, and engineers will push the research forward and build technologies that are significantly ahead of the current state-of-the-art.”
The press release states that tests and evaluation work for BRIAR will be conducted by the Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center, Research and Technology Integration Directorate.
The contracts are a realization of a years-long process to strengthen R&D for biometric identification from long range and difficult conditions using UAVs. In 2019, the ODNI announced a request for information to explore the field. And in December 2020, a solicitation for whole-body biometric identification was revealed with specific details the ODNI was seeking, such as the capability to identify people with biometrics from 300 meters or further away “through atmospheric turbulence.”