By Joshua Kopstein
The Verge, February 1, 2013
But what’s most terrifying about ARGUS (fittingly named after Argus Panoptes,, the 100-eyed giant of Greek myth) is what happens afterward: the system gives its owner (and eventually, DARPA says, a well-programmed A.I.) the ability to scan an entire city for all sorts of "suspicious" activity, not just in real-time but after the fact. It all adds up to around 6 petabytes (6,000 terabytes) worth of 12 frames-per-second video per day.
What's really interesting is that the system is kind of a hack-job. Its massive resolution comes from chaining together 368 5-megapixel cellphone cameras — something similar doesn't seem like it would be impossible to reproduce on a civilian scale. The image processing, however, is another story. ARGUS' real-time surveillance capabilities rely on both on-board and ground-based processing, which need to transmit to the tune of 600 gigabits per second, though DARPA won't disclose exactly how they'd be able to run that kind of network from the air.
The new info comes from "Rise of the Drones," a new PBS NOVA TV special-bordering-on-infomercial which was funded in part by drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin — seemingly in direct violation of PBS' own underwriting guidelines. It's not clear where ARGUS-IS will be used just yet, but its probably a safe bet we'll see it as payload on the cheap and ubiquitous MQ-1 Predator drone. Don't expect it to stay in war zones, though — thanks in part to a recent Department of Homeland Security initiative, the FAA estimates 30,000 drones in US skies in the next 20 years, and it's a probably safe to assume that ARGUS isn't far behind, with a trail of potential Fourth Amendment violations in tow.