Unmanned Systems Technology 025 | iXblue DriX I Maintenance I UGVs I IDEX 2019 I Planck Aero Shearwater I Sky Power hybrid system I Delph Dynamics RH4 I GCSs I StreetDrone Twizy I Oceanology Americas 2019

77 the control software depending on a customer’s requirements. Others start from the control and mission planning software, and add hardware around that, often in the form of a rugged laptop or tablet computer. The move to more autonomous operation is also changing the design requirements of the GCS. While there is still a need to operate an unmanned platform remotely, increasingly the operator is just setting the mission parameters and monitoring the activity to make sure everything is working correctly, monitoring the video feed from the craft and only taking over control in exceptional circumstances. That is driving a need for larger displays and more sophisticated and targeted software that shows more of the mission’s parameters. A new generation of GCS software that can handle the real- time data, video and interactive mission planning is therefore needed. The choice of operating systems is also opening up more challenges for GCS developers. Custom software running on Linux has been the mainstream platform for mission planning and control, but end- users are now requesting more support for the Windows and Android operating systems. Windows 7 has reached the end of its support, and mainstream processors with long support life from Intel and AMD run Windows 10, allowing end-users to add their own custom software functions, called extensions. This long lifetime (of five to seven years) of the processors is a key factor for high-end GCS designs, which can take more than two years to define and build, and be in operation for a further 10 years or more. There are challenges with providing support for Android, however, as it is not available in off-the-shelf rugged hardware, with high levels of protection against water and dust, as determined by ingress protection ratings such as IP67 and IP68. Mainstream consumer tablets also cannot be used as they have a limited product lifetime, of only a few years. This even has an acronym of its own – diminished manufacturing sources (DMS). The form factors of GCSs also vary tremendously. For a remotely piloted aircraft that can fly across the Atlantic Ocean, for example, the latest GCS has six HD screens and a single operator, rather than needing two operators. It is Linux-based but needed a complex design review of more than 700 human- machine interface (HMI) factors to allow one person to monitor the UAV. This type of high-end GCS has a glass cockpit designed for a single operator but it reduces the workload by displaying electronic checklists and integrated mission data information. However, it still has full physical and functional separation between the payload operation and the safety- critical operational flight program, which previously required two people. This separation allows payloads such as new cameras to be integrated, tested and fielded more quickly, as the changes to the payload operation do not impact on the flight operation. It uses a modular architecture that allows different components to be replaced without disturbing the overall GCS design, and so helps avoid the costs of DMS and equipment shortages. At the other end of the scale, a GCS can be as simple as a tablet connected directly to a joystick and a data interface, but this design is vulnerable to a failure of the battery or accessories such as a joystick controller attached via the USB port. Ground control stations | Focus Processor lifetime is a key factor for high-end GCSs, which can take more than two years to build, and operate for another 10 or so Unmanned Systems Technology | April/May 2019 The latest GCS for the MQ-9 UAV incorporates more than 700 design changes to support a single operator (Courtesy of General Atomic)