Inside Unmanned Systems

JUN-JUL 2019

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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48  June/July 2019 unmanned systems inside Photos courtesy of Lockheed Martin. Ground Systems WELL GROUNDED: Decades of experience with satellite mission analysis, unmanned target control and "ruggedized" military test equipment enabled three fi rms to adapt their advanced unmanned software and control systems for commercial operators across multiple domains. T he military legacy that underpins much of the un- manned industry comprises more than f light ex- perience and cutting-edge hardware. It is shaped by software and f light control equipment whose reliabil- ity and advanced capabilities—like beyond-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations—were proven while supporting military missions. Today those control systems have evolved to serve commercial operators. Software created to map gaps in satellite communications and guide unmanned practice targets is now, decades later, evolving to become part of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems. One firm that ruggedized testing equipment to withstand hard use by the U.S. Marines is now building drone f light controllers to last for years in harsh environments like chemical plants. ONESKY The UTM system being developed by OneSky got its start in 1989, when three engineers left GE Aerospace to launch Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI) and develop the Satellite Tool Kit. The STK software package could calculate orbits and determine when a spacecraft would be in a position to communicate with ground stations. by Dee Ann Divis Over the years, AGI steadily added new modules and expanded STK's capabilities. Some in the U.S. military adopted the software to do real-time, 3-D visualiza- tion, enabling defense officials to envision air, land and sea forces as well as the space component. To ref lect its growing versatility the name was changed to the Systems Tool Kit, which some 700 to 800 organizations now use, said Chris Kucera, the Exton, Pennsylvania, firm's director of strategic partnerships. STK is a modeling, simulation and planning applica- tion geared towards analyzing dynamic missions, said Kucera. For a space shuttle launch, for example, STK could be used to determine the many different commu- nication and tracking systems that all have to work. "We can model those in advance and make sure that the in- frastructure is in place to gather the data that we need." Those capabilities are now being used by AGI subsid- iary OneSky to analyze the infrastructure supporting lengthy drone missions. For example, STK can determine if there are times and places along a planned f light route where a drone's accuracy could be impacted by a limited view of navigation satellites. In that case, STK would an- alyze the satellites' orbits and the terrain along the route for the planned date and time of the mission. But those are just a few of the factors that need to be noted. You need to know the weather along the route, Kucera said. If you are using cellular networks to communicate with and control your unmanned aircraft system (UAS) you need to be sure there's cell coverage in place to support that. "Just because I plan the f light from here to there doesn't mean that I have the ability to communicate with [the drone] along that route," Kucera said. "Cellular is not everywhere. GPS is not everywhere. Surveillance, like radar, isn't everywhere—and so we have to model it to figure out where it's available." COMPANY PRODUCT CAPABILITIES USERS OneSky (Analytical Graphics, Inc.) UTM system Software does deep safety analysis Various drone-test ranges; Singapore CDL Systems (Lockheed Martin Canada) VSCi Multi-vehicle/multi-domain control software/UTM system Defense/commercial unmanned operators CP Technologies Ruggedized Portable Flight controller hardware for rugged conditions with direct- sunlight-readable screens Military/commercial/ UAS operators MILITARY EXPERIENCE ANCHORS PRIVATE SECTOR CONTROL SYSTEMS DEFENSE COMMERCIAL NEXUS

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