Unmanned Systems Technology 016 | Hydromea Vertex AUV | Power management systems | Unmanned Space Vehicles | Continental CD-155 turbodiesel | Swift 020 UAV | ECUs | DSEI 2017 Show report

16 T here are several significant shifts happening now for unmanned systems, says Matt Moore, who is responsible for the Thales Watchkeeper unmanned aerial system (UAS) as well as future military and civil air platforms. The first is a move from unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft to autonomous systems that take the operator out of the control loop, allowing UAVs to make their own decisions. The Watchkeeper and its successor, Watchkeeper-X, is the only large UAS to be certified for operation in civilian airspace using a remote operator, so the move to autonomous operation has wider implications. While a remote operator can notify air traffic control (ATC) if there is a problem and liaise with controllers in the same way as any other pilot, a fully autonomous craft has to link into the ATC data systems. That is coupled with the need to collaborate much more closely with other unmanned systems on the ground and on and under the sea. This was highlighted by the recent Unmanned Warrior exercise that demonstrated Watchkeeper operating with the Halcyon unmanned surface vessel (USV) and the autonomous underwater system (AUSS) for mine clearing operations. The third element is cybersecurity. With all these systems communicating, the security of the data and the connection is paramount, and this has to be consistent across all the different platforms. This has implications for the avionics architecture. For example, all the data from a Watchkeeper is sent back to the ground station for analysis and decision-making, rather than being kept on the aircraft, says Moore. This prevents data falling into enemy hands should the aircraft crash or be brought down, but means that tight security of the links is essential. This also has implications for the autonomous operation, with artificial intelligence (AI) machine learning technology being implemented in many Nick Flaherty talks to the head of UAS tactical planning at Thales about how remotely operated unmanned systems are moving to autonomous operation The decision-maker October/November 2017 | Unmanned Systems Technology The Watchkeeper UAS is certified for operation in civilian airspace