TECH
28/10/2013 07:48 GMT

SPAN 'Spy Rock' From Lockheed Martin Could Be The Next Step In Covert Military Surveillance

The latest advancement in warfare technology isn't a balancing humanoid, mega-laser or drone assassin, it's a... rock.

This year's AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington DC saw Lockheed martin unveil some rather clever spy stones.

SPAN (Self-Powered Ad-hoc Network) s billed as a "covert, perpetually self-powered wireless sensor network" that provides "unobtrusive, continuous surveillance".

spy rock

Spy Rock

In practice this is a network of "self-organising, self-healing sensors" that can be used to monitor sensitive areas and alert users when something is awry.

This can take many forms. The area in question could be a border, oil pipeline or somewhere deep inside enemy territory.

An alarm could cue a camera or unmanned aerial vehicle to further study an area or call an engineer if something needs repaired.

The hope is the devices can negate the need to constantly have a (costly) human presence in sensitive areas.

Spy rocks have been around for a while but not with this level of sophistication.

Last year Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to prime minister, Tony Blair, admitted that the Russians had uncovered a plot to spy on them using a device concealed in a fake plastic rock way back in 2006.

He said: "The spy rock was embarrassing.

"They had us bang to rights. Clearly they had known about it for some time and had been saving it up for a political purpose."