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Saab, DigitalGlobe to build earth 3-D model

DUBAI, May 28, 2015

US satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe and Sweden's Saab AB have announced a new joint venture aimed at building an accurate 3-D model of the earth and capturing billions of dollars in new business.

Tony Frazier, senior vice president at DigitalGlobe, said the two companies had been working together for two years, but were now creating a separate US-based venture, Vricon Inc, to accelerate the work and team up on distribution.

"We feel this is a multibillion-dollar opportunity," Frazier said, noting the venture would initially focus on customers in the defense, security and infrastructure markets. "We're going to literally produce the entire globe at unmatched accuracy."

Frazier said the new venture would use Saab's 3-D computer processing technology and DigitalGlobe's vast archive of billions of square kilometers of high-quality satellite imagery to create realistic 3-D models of huge parts of the globe.

The US military has long used 3-D modeling and aerial imagery for planning tactical missions, but the work often relied on classified data and focused on smaller areas.

Vricon will produce quicker models that can be more easily shared with allies and others, since they are based on commercial imagery, Frazier said.

The effort also dovetails with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's (NGA) push to better utilize social media, unclassified data, and other publicly available material, and positions Vricon to bid for some of that work.

The move will further expand the US footprint of Saab, which is already teamed with Boeing Co to compete for a new US Air Force training plane.

Dan Jangblad, head of Saab's industrial products business, said the company sold the commercial rights to the 3-D technology to an unidentified IT firm several years ago, but held onto the right to develop it for military and government use.

Saab, maker of the Gripen fighter jet, initially developed the 3-D technology as a missile target-seeker, but soon realized the tool could be used for many other applications.

Vricon aims to produce 3-D models of about a third of the earth's 100 million sq km of useable land mass within three years. Using a highly automated process should allow the venture to produce about 2 million sq km of 3-D models each month, Vice President Isaac Zaworski said.

He said hosting the model on the cloud would also make it easier for analysts to access and work with the models, instead of needing to wait for bandwidth-heavy downloads.-Reuters




Tags: Saab | DigitalGlobe |

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