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Royal Navy helicopter crews transfer control of UAS in European first

2nd February 2023 - 13:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


The Project DATUM trials saw Royal Navy helicopter crews transfer control of a small UAS between aircraft during a live mission which was mirrored virtually. (Photo: QinetiQ)

Using technology supplied by QinetiQ, two Royal Navy helicopter crews successfully exchanged control of a UAS while in flight.

QinetiQ’s DATUM project team has delivered UK and European firsts with the live airborne exchange of control of a small quadcopter UAS between operators in separate crewed aircraft. 

Both the live demonstration and a parallel synthetic trial were conducted using QinetiQ’s autonomy and policy management software, ACCSIOM, managing the same mission in real and virtual worlds. 

Data captured during the synthetic trial will be analysed and compared with live data to inform requirements for digital test and evaluation by QinetiQ.

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Dave Dixon, lead engineer, QinetiQ, commented: 'The delivery of this landmark airborne exchange of control is a major achievement for the DATUM team and has positive implications for the future development and application of crewed-uncrewed teaming.'

DATUM was delivered with support from the Royal Navy, which provided 744 Naval Air Squadron crew for the demonstration. After a short training programme, the squadron was able to task the UAS with mission instructions, allowing for successful exchange of control in the demonstration. 

The crews used QinetiQ’s CAPTEAM application on COTS tablets coupled with IP radios as a carry-on situational awareness and tasking system.

744 Naval Air Squadron's role is to test and evaluate new and existing rotary-wing aircraft, systems, sensors and weaponry before release front-line units in all three UK services.

The Shephard News Team


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