QinetiQ demonstrates coordinated C2 of UAVs
QinetiQ has recently completed a demonstration at the Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Centre at Parc Aberporth that saw multiple UAS and their onboard mission systems controlled from a single ground station. The demonstration is part of the Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment (ASTRAEA) programme.
ASTRAEA is a UK industry-led consortium focused on the technologies, systems, facilities, procedures and regulations that will allow autonomous vehicles to operate safely and routinely in civil airspace over the UK.
QinetiQ’s demonstration successfully tested the company’s autonomy software and shared decision-making between the UAS and the remote pilot. Two mini UAS operated by Callen-Lenz were used, with the QinetiQ software providing continuous, optimised asset tasking, as well as individual vehicle track and sensor steering commands to both autopilots via a standard interface over a single Ethernet connection.
According to QinetiQ, the autonomy software works with an interactive display that shows the aircrafts’ knowledge and intent. It allows the remote pilot to verify that the behaviour is consistent with operational intentions or modify as necessary, allowing the pilot to retain absolute authority at all times. The technology is scalable to different numbers, size and class of UAS and can be implemented as an overlay to existing ground control stations.
Jeremy Howitt, QinetiQ programme leader, said: ‘Our motivation is to drive the safety, utility and affordability of unmanned aircraft, particularly for the, as yet untapped, civil and commercial market. The intention is to develop the tools as ‘Apps’ that will allow any third party operator to mix-and-match autonomous capabilities to meet their individual need.’
A number of key technologies and operating procedures are being developed and demonstrated to open up airspace to UAS by the ASTRAEA consortium, which also includes companies AOS, BAE Systems, Cassidian, Cobham, Rolls-Royce and Thales.
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