Battlespace drone control [CS19D2]

30 May 2019

Ottawa-based geospatial and defence technology house Kongsberg Geospatial (Booth 915) is introducing a multidomain control system for co-ordinating the use of drones in the battlespace. Over the past four years, the company has developed an airspace awareness system for operating unmanned aerial systems (UAS) beyond visual line-of-sight, called IRIS UxS.

The IRIS system was developed to help commercial drone operators safely operate beyond visual line-of-sight.

It integrated realtime data from sensors and other sources to create an accurate picture of the airspace around a drone. This presented users with an integrated display with a 3D map showing exactly where their drone is, and all the terrain, navigation hazards and other aircraft and drones in the vicinity.

Since then, IRIS has been developed into a fully fledged multiplatform control system integrated with a variety of autopilot systems, allowing a single operator to actively control multiple drones from a single station.

Kongsberg Geospatial has now introduced a new, military-focused version of the IRIS system - IRIS UxS - based on its participation in NATO STANAG 4817 standard for multidomain control stations.

The new system collects and fuses data from a wide range of sensors, allowing operators to control multiple autonomous vehicles in a multidomain mission theatre. IRIS UxS integrates different kinds of geospatial data and sensor input to create a composite operating picture that includes the airspace, 3D terrain, bathyscape (undersea terrain visualisation), and features from S-57 nautical charts. The system leverages a real-time DDS bus architecture and sensor fusion technology that allows operators to simultaneously track and operate drones in the air, on the water and underwater.

"We've successfully proven we can co-ordinate manned, unmanned, aerial, and ground assets in the civilian emergency mission space," Ranald McGillis, president of Kongsberg Geospatial, told the Show Daily. "Now we've implemented the STANAG standard in a way that can make it easy to integrate unmanned systems in the military mission space."

The company anticipates that its work relating to co-ordinating unmanned platforms with larger manned vehicles will help to evolve new ways of visualising multidomain mission spaces for other command and control purposes.

(349 words)