Raytheon has build a new common ground control system for the U.S. Navy’s unmanned systems (UxS)
The new system uses a single, cyber-hardened workstation to operate unmanned vehicles that ply on the sea surface, underwater and in the air.
“One of the problems the Navy has is that it only has so much space on its ships, whether it’s an aircraft carrier, cruiser, frigate or whatever,” said Bob Busey, Raytheon’s director of unmanned vehicle control systems.
“They can’t afford to have ground control stations for five or six different types of unmanned vehicles on a ship. They just don’t have that kind of footprint.”
Raytheon’s system uses a modular, open architecture complementing the Unmanned Aircraft System Control Segment standard (UCS).
This design allows the Navy to rapidly add new features, eliminate redundant software development, reuse common software services, consolidate product support and reduce costs.
According to Raytheon, the system can also easily use other open system standards, such as Open Mission Systems, Universal Command and Control, and Future Airborne Capability Environment services.
“The beauty of using the UCS standard is that it can integrate third-party packages for things like mission management, mission planning, maps and graphic user interfaces,” explains Busey.
“If they want a GUI that looks like a manned system or a yellow button here instead of a red button there, then it can be very quickly, easily and affordably integrated. That way, they’re not reinventing the wheel every time they need a new map.”
According to Raytheon, the Common Ground Control System will also make it easier to train sailors to operate UxSs and control multiple vehicles.
For example, an MQ-4C Triton UAV pilot could also fly an MQ-8 Fire Scout autonomous helicopter or the MQ-25 Stingray.
“It’s really not that different than flying an aircraft in many ways,” says Busey. “They all go up and down – well, hopefully the surface ships aren’t, but – they all go left or right.”
“They still all have to avoid different obstacles whether it’s bad weather, mountains or actual land masses. And they all have similar missions.”
“Therefore, if the GUI is familiar, a sailor could learn to operate multiple vehicles using a single laptop or tablet,” opines Busey.
Image and content: U.S. Navy photo-Joe Bishop/Raytheon