The Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has initiated a new project to develop a “smart camera” that will help military robots better understand their surroundings.

The Mind’s Eye programme is specifically intended to develop visual intelligence in machines, a capability that currently exists only in animals.

The new project is destined to fill the visual processing systems of the robot with a broader understanding of the motives and reasons behind why recognised objects might be moving in such a specific way, according to

DARPA intends to use the smart camera as a stronger surveillance system on small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A smart-camera-equipped drone could understand that an insurgent is planting a roadside bomb, reducing the time human intelligence experts would need to analyse the images and video footage collected by the UAV.

DARPA says that similar visual intelligence would also be considered for unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), which defuse bombs and perform other hazardous missions in the battlefield.