CSIR evolves surveillance camera


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a lighter, cheaper and more compact version of its Otus surveillance camera, which is currently being used to detect poachers in the Kruger National Park.

The CSIR’s new Tyto camera, which is a spinoff off Otus, is designed for wide area surveillance for applications like border security or asset protection. Whereas Otus has two channels of view, Tyto has one, making it lighter and cheaper – Tyto weights 20 kg compared to the 98 kg of Otus, and is 58 cm long compared to 80 cm.

Otus and Tyto are developed using commercial off the shelf optical components, enclosed in a custom housing. The system operates using software developed by the CSIR.

Tyto is able to operate during the day or at night with enhanced twilight performance. It has a high sensitivity monochrome main sensor and thermal detection sensor. The day camera has a 30 times optical zoom. Range is around 5 km, compared to approximately 10 for Otus.

Otus is the camera on the Meerkat wide area surveillance system that adds a Reutech radar. It has been used in the Kruger National Park to spot rhino poachers with considerable success. Like Otus, Tyto can also be integrated with a radar system.

At the moment the CSIR is doing feasibility testing of the camera system. While Otus is a mature product, Tyto is a niche market product still under development.

Aside from onsite laboratories and facilities used in the development of optronic products, the CSIR said it is geared to undertake pilot deployments in the field with mobile containerised control and evaluation units.

The CSIR said its cameras are ideally suited for day and night surveillance of high value assets, including for wildlife conservation, state-owned entities/infrastructure and border management.