The Office of Naval Research has developed a blueprint for software that will be able to control multiple military unmanned systems.
The software is called the Universal Character Set, and an ONR press release likened it to a remote control that can be used with multiple types and brands of home entertainment devices.
ONR tested the software on the Bi-Directional Remote Video Terminal Common Control System. This step allowed ONR to build out the requirements for a BDRVT common controller that uses the Universal Character Set, a task given to ONR in 2012 by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The BDRVT was developed using NATO Standardization Agreement 4586, which aims to standardize UAS control interfaces.
"Some day in the near future you'll have a sailor controlling an Air Force unit's unmanned system, or an airman sitting at a desk controlling a naval unmanned system, or a Marine controlling an Army platform," says Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder. "That's the kind of ability we will have with this new Common Control System - that's our future."
This software will let warfighters control the entire system - both vehicle and payload - and sidesteps the proprietary software that drives up the cost of unmanned systems.
"This opens the aperture for a much wider and more rapid generation of newer technologies and capabilities and for all vendors, including small businesses, to be able to compete for those capabilities," says Dr. Bobby Junker, who heads ONR's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance department. "This is bringing back that entrepreneurial spirit that used to be there with unmanned systems."
The data from the systems will be stored on a cloud that can be accessed by all military services. The creation of the software itself is collaborative beyond just ONR working and OSD's Office of Strategic and Tactical Systems. The project also includes Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems and the Program Executive Office Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.