Engineers at the Beijing-based China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform, systems, and technology business unit of defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), are developing a new app-based UAV management system specifically designed to reduce the complexities of operating larger, multirole air vehicles in the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) class.
Jane’s sources revealed that such an effort had been under way since 2014 and the company aims to have early software builds ready for field trials “in the near future”. It is expected that the yet-to-be-named app-based system will be made available as an option for the company’s flagship products such as the Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) – which is already in service a number of countries in Central Asia and the Middle East – and the recently market-ready CH-5 strike-capable reconnaissance MALE UAVs when fully developed.
A company official briefed Jane’s that the proposed management system takes the form of open architecture software that exploits the high level of automation that is already inherent in the company’s UAV platforms – which are already capable of automatic take-off and landing and autonomous navigation – to enable an operator to assign tasks to one or multiple platforms using easily identifiable app icons.
“Our app-based approach is designed to increase the effectiveness of UAV missions by raising operator focus from the level of tactical operation to that of supervision,” the official explained. “By automating most, if not all tactical functions, we are also aiming to ease the cognitive burden on operators, enabling them to supervise and command multiple concurrent UAV missions without losing effectiveness.”
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