Military Embedded Systems

Air Force shares UAV software with focus on improved human/machine interface


September 01, 2017

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Air Force shares UAV software with focus on improved human/machine interface
Image by the U.S. Air Force

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. The 711th Human Performance Wing?s (711 HPW) Airman Systems Directorate entered into five information transfer agreements (ITAs) with commercial companies to share and provide access to its Vigilant Spirit Control Station (VSCS) software package, which allows operators to control multiple unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) at once.

Under the agreements, companies can use the software and further research while also protecting the intellectual property rights of the Air Force. The 711HPW’s Supervisory Control & Cognition Branch engineers developed the software with a focus on improved human/machine interface and adaptability. The software package offers multi-role, human-machine teaming and an advanced simulation and training component. It has been used in a variety of Air Force training and research and development activities, officials say.

“The Vigilant Spirit Control Station, also known as VSCS, was designed with the user experience in mind. We wanted it to be user-friendly, adaptable, and cost effective. It’s providing a unique advanced capability for future DoD UAV systems,” says Greg Feitshans, the chief engineer and program director for the software.

One such ITA agreement is with Bihrle Applied Research Inc., which has become necessary for continued testing of the integration of VSCS and the Jointly Optimal Conflict Avoidance sense and avoid algorithm. A team from Bihrle Applied Research is working with AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate on the project

“Having access to the software allows our algorithm development team to operate and observe the algorithm’s dynamic interaction with the software controls and display functions in real time and under different encounter scenarios,” says Jacob Kay, the director of sense and avoid technologies at Bihrle Applied Research. “This first-hand experience with VSCS greatly expedites our development, testing, and refinement process.”

“By allowing government and commercial users to enter into such ITAs, VSCS is more likely to be adopted as a preferred software for controlling multiple UAVs,” says Dr. James Kearns, the 711HPW Technology Transfer Program Manager. “The 711HPW also benefits by retaining control of its software while having access to any software enhancements developed by users under the agreements.”

The 711 HPW, established under the Air Force Research Laboratory, is the first human-centric warfare wing to consolidate human performance research, education and consultation under a single organization, according to Air Force officials.

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