ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Feb. 12, 2020) -- Army Futures Command is integrating robotics platforms with mission command systems to improve the battlefield common operating picture through manned-unmanned teaming.
AFC's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center -- known as the C5ISR Center -- is working closely with the Army's Ground Vehicle Systems Center and Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team to connect mission planning, execution and alerts within the emerging field of tele-operated and autonomous robotics.
The research is part of the Army's larger effort to bring greater autonomy into ground combat formations.
"We're developing software to quickly and automatically build and share a common operating picture to synch mission-command tools with new robotic platforms," said Osie David, a C5ISR Center chief engineer who is leading C4ISR Modular Autonomy, a two-year program ending in September 2020.
The project is supporting NGCV CFT's objectives to bring together future manned and unmanned combat vehicle operations by 2026. NGCV's portfolio will include an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, which will replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, as well as robotic combat vehicles.
The C5ISR Center collaborated with GVSC during an engineering test at Camp Grayling, Michigan, in 2019 to demonstrate a proof of concept. The teams created a communications link between an existing mission command system, Joint Battle Command-Platform, and robotic, semi-autonomous vehicle platforms.
This emerging research area will enable Soldiers to view one COP on a single screen to see manned and unmanned systems, according to Jillyn Alban, leader of GVSC's Robotic Human Machine Interaction Team.
"This was a simple but crucial first step to working through the initial challenges of engineering different systems and data to work together seamlessly for Soldiers," Alban said. "This will pave the way for richer experimentation and implementation with advanced concepts. This will help to ensure robotic operators have the data they need to complete missions from higher commands."
Mission command is the warfighting function that relies on commanders and subordinates taking decisive action based on their understanding of activities in the operational area. The C5ISR Center is using its expertise in mission command systems to investigate how best to instruct robots to collect information, such as surveillance and reconnaissance data, and disseminate it to Soldiers.
"We're developing schemes to allow Soldiers to provide initial tasking and re-tasking of robotics systems for mission planning. We want to relieve the burden on Soldiers so they don't have to constantly operate and monitor a robot. This frees Soldiers to do other tasks and stay in the fight," David said.
Analyzing the mission-command data that robotics are receiving and sending will be key to the NGCV CFT's goals of fielding large robotic vehicles with extensive sensor packages into combat formations, said C5ISR Center computer scientist Rob Beckinger.
"We want to provide a bigger picture of where the robots are going and what they're doing. This could contain critical information for commanders and staff to move, shoot and communicate. We need to ensure it populates seamlessly on the COP," Beckinger said.
The C5ISR Center team also worked with Maj. Dan Drake, who is assigned to Army Materiel Command-Army Reserve Element Detachment 7/9, to gain feedback during a C4ISR Modular Autonomy demonstration at APG.
"The biggest benefit to the use of robotics is the ability to sustain operational tempo while simultaneously reducing Soldiers' exposure to harm," Drake said. "Whether the risks be from hostile fire or a vehicle accident due to fatigue, autonomous vehicles reduce risk and sustain combat power. This software provides a vital capability to plan and coordinate missions across multiple systems, and it consolidates the information needed to maintain a common operating picture."
The C5ISR Center will conduct a more robust demonstration with mature architecture, featuring multiple robotic vehicles, with GVSC in 2020. The organizations will demonstrate more advanced robotic tasking using the Army's Blue Force Tracking network to link the systems.
For more information, contact the C5ISR Center Public Affairs Office:
The C5ISR Center is the Army's applied research and advanced technology development center for C5ISR capabilities. As the Army's primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.
Related Links:Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center