Author Topic: Unmanned Wingman Technology  (Read 411 times)

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Offline AG-51_Hoss

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Unmanned Wingman Technology
« on: April 12, 2017, 08:16:26 PM »
Read this today and was impressed with the progress they have made on this.  They also have the small UAV Helo they partner with the kiowa and Apache...

Skunk Works Demos Unmanned Wingman Tech
 Lockheed Martin Skunk Works has demonstrated autonomy for unmanned combat aircraft in a manned/unmanned teaming experiment supporting the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratorys (AFRL) Loyal Wingman program.
 The two-week Have Raider II tests at Edwards AFB, California, involved the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and its F-16 Vista inflight simulator, operated by Calspan, which was used as a surrogate unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) for the demo.
 While the Have Raider I demo in 2015 focused on autonomy for advanced vehicle control, Have Raider II involved autonomy from a battle management perspective. We wanted to put mission planning on the unmanned asset itself, instead of having that capability always being locked down onto a ground station, says Shawn Whitcomb, Skunk Works Loyal Wingman program manager.
 Have Raider I pushed autonomy from a vehicle standpoint, and command and control from the lead to the unmanned platform, he says, to demonstrate autonomous formation flying, route following and rejoining, and collision avoidance using the Vista as a surrogate UCAV and an F-16 Block 50 as the lead aircraft in a manned/unmanned strike package.
 With Have Raider II in March we demonstrated the ability for the Vista aircraft to automatically plan a ground-attack mission with itself as one of the players. It had to prioritize tasks based on priorities given by the operator and assets available to achieve the overall mission objectives, Whitcomb says.
 We also evaluated the systems ability to dynamically replan. We were looking for adaptive mission execution capability, he says. When the vehicle saw a pop-up ground threat, it would automatically replan the mission to minimize exposure to the threat while still achieving the mission goals.
 The tests look at contingencies such as the unmanned vehicle losing communications at a critical point in the mission. How does mission contingency management take over, execute as planned and rejoin the network once comms are re-engaged? Whitcomb says.
 The demo also looked at losing a particular weapon type, and how the system would replan the overall mission to achieve the objective, he says.
 For Have Raider I, the automatic vehicle control capabilities were integrated into the Vista. For Have Raider II, the Skunk Works used the Air Force Open Mission System (OMS) software standard to integrate an adjunct processor onto the Vista to host the autonomous battle management algorithms.
 All the ability to adaptively execute the mission was on that processor, he says. A communications gateway between the adjunct processor and the Vistas flight control computer allowed it to work in conjunction with the advanced vehicle control capabilities added in Have Raider I.
 Instead of the Block F-16 used in the first series of tests, for the second series the Vista was connected to a virtual lead aircraft on the ground.
 Have Raider I experimented with different types of command and control, including giving the lead pilot direct control over the UCAV via the F-16s upfront controls. The pilot could also select a preplanned mission. The UCAV would fly the mission, perform battle-damage assessment and rejoin the formation.
 We also played with the idea of using non-verbal cues. Often when pilots go into radio silence they will use something like a wing flash [rolling 90 deg., then back] to indicate to their wingman to change stations, he says. We programmed that in so that, depending on mission phase, the UCAV would interpret that maneuver and execute accordingly, such as going from tactical to fighting-wing formation [from abreast to closer echelon formation], Whitcomb says.
 Have Raider II integrated C2 from the lead aircraft with the OMS UCI (unmanned command-and-control initiative) protocol. At the Skunk Works we are experimenting with a pilot-vehicle interface for fifth-generation cockpits that translates relatively simple pilot intent into UCI message structures that can go out to unmanned aircraft. We started to evaluate that in Have Raider II, he says. We are evaluating multiple different schemes, ranging from touchscreens to voice recognition, says Renee Pasman, Skunk Works mission systems road maps director. We are evaluating a number of schemes both for effectiveness in translating intent and also reducing pilot cognitive workload.