In all mobile military and airborne platforms, the transition from mechanical systems to electronically controlled systems is taking place. As the electronics content continues to grow, so do the processing loads that happen on every platform. Embedded computers are rising in sophistication as they need to support sensors, radar, video streams, and remote-control functions. Distributed processing, the interconnection of devices, and communication between devices has led to an exponential jump in bandwidth requirements on the interconnects between these devices. Traditional protocols like IEEE 1394 and USB still have legacy applications on these platforms, but most new platforms and platform retrofits are turning to Ethernet as their de facto communications protocol, supporting 1 Gbps in most platforms and growing to 10 Gbps in certain payloads.
As we know, open standards and platforms are becoming a top priority for the military branches as it attempts to implement technologies with more rapid innovation cycles. For the US this is an absolute necessity to keep up with or stay ahead of foreign threats. Last year, officials at DARPA issued a broad agency announcement (DARPA-BAA-14-40) for the System of Systems Integration Technology and Experimentation (SoSITE) program. The program goal is to develop an open system architecture (OSA) for rapid distribution and experimentation of new functionalities across aircraft, weapons, sensors, and mission systems.
Whether they realize it or not, a recent Research and Markets Report, (take a deep breath now) Commercial Avionics Systems Market by Sub-systems (FMS, Flight Control Systems, Navigation, Communication, & Surveillance Systems, HMS, and Aircraft Electrical & Emergency Systems), by Platform (Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing), and by Geography – Forecast & Analysis (2014 – 2020) (exhale) is indirectly calling for an increased use of Ethernet in the Avionics market.
A couple of months ago, we wrote about naval experiments with “sense and avoid” technology . The point behind the article was that “sense and avoid” technology is one of the gaiting factors behind the FAA approving widespread use and application of unmanned aircraft. The FAA regulations clearly state that sense and avoidance would be the sole responsibility of the unmanned aircraft when sharing airspace with manned aircraft.
Here’s some promising news on that front. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA ASI), recently announced two key technological advances related to its ongoing Sense and Avoid (SAA) system development efforts.
It seems to me that “sense and avoid” technology is the gaiting factor for wide-spread adoption and deployment of unmanned vehicles. What caught my eye when reading the FAA’s future requirements to allow unmanned aircraft in to the field was that the responsibility of “sense and avoid” technology was going to solely lie at the feet of those developing unmanned aircraft.
Manned aircraft being developed for future generations would not have this responsibility, which seems a bit one-sided. I mean, if they are all going to be up in the air together, shouldn’t they all be required to have the same capabilities to avoid collision?
The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) is a Navy-sponsored program for developing a new generation of open, modular robotic systems. The military services have successfully used ground robots in the fight against terror over the past decade. In addition, U.S. and international law enforcement agencies have experienced the benefit of these systems in conducting dangerous and life-threatening tasks that have saved lives throughout the world.
However, there has been a deepening of concern that the lack of interoperability between unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) systems imposes limitations on development and deployment, complicating the integration of advanced technologies and control schemes. The Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS) is a new program sponsored by the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division (NAVEODTECHDIV) and currently under test and development at John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL).
When we think of drones, or UAS, we usually think of small unmanned aircraft used by the military for remote missions, or commercial deployments that are being developed for a myriad of useful applications. But this is a really interesting application of an “unmanned aircraft”. Taking an F-16 and retrofitting it to fly unmanned allows the for some interested testing of air-. to-missile and sensor technology testing and development.