Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Ground Control Station (GCS)


Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Ground Control Station (GCS)

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General Atomics had to meet strict requirements for data bandwidth and availability. They could have designed and implemented a custom solution for data integration on their own, but that would have significantly delayed the project. Plus the lifecycle cost of developing and maintaining a custom software solution for a specific project can be enormous.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is a leader in high-technology systems development ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electric, electronic, wireless and laser technologies. Among its projects is the design and development of advanced cockpit ground control stations (GCSs) for unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) such as the military Predator drones. Unmanned aircraft systems are controlled and flown from GCSs on the ground, which require real-time data and control links to every sensor and control surface on the aircraft.

After evaluating both commercial distributed networking alternatives and potential in-house custom code, General Atomics selected RTI Data Distribution Service for real-time data exchange and processing for the GCS. RTI Data Distribution Service is a standards-based middleware product that enables the real-time exchange of data between nodes of a distributed system that consists of both data producers and data consumers. Using a publish-subscribe model for data availability, it provides a means to quickly and reliably move and share data in a distributed computing environment. RTI Data Distribution Service complies with the Object Management Group (OMG) Data Distribution Service for Real-Time Systems (DDS) specification for data distribution across large-scale networks. RTI Data Distribution Service met General Atomics’ requirements for real-time data distribution, bandwidth, and processing in the GCS. It enabled the company to implement the data distribution features needed the GCS without writing significant amounts of custom code. The use of the RTI Data Distribution Service enabled General Atomics to complete the major upgrade of the Advanced Cockpit GCS in only 14 months. The company successfully demonstrated the GCS solution during the flight of a mission-configured MQ-1 Predator UAS in July 2007.

Flight conditions, airframe configuration, onboard instrument status, and position and direction
Emerging (technology has been on the market for > 2 years)
Improved situational awareness, reduced pilot workload, and better data coordination needed to effectively operate a UAS. Enabled General Atomics to complete the major upgrade of the Advanced Cockpit GCS in only 14 months.

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