Live Airborne Exchange of UAS Control

QinetiQ has successfully demonstrated the exchange of control of an unmanned aerial system between two helicopter crews By Sarah Simpson / 06 Feb 2023
QinetiQ Demonstrates Advances in Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming
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QinetiQ’s DATUM team has delivered UK and European firsts with the live airborne exchange of control of an unmanned air system (UAS) between operators in separate crewed aircraft.

The demonstration proved how effective teams comprising both humans and machines can be dynamically built and operated in real time, paving the way for their use by militaries in the future.

This is a significant step forward as operators in real-world scenarios will need to exchange control of available unmanned capabilities reliably and securely during missions.

A force multiplier for UAS operations, this capability will enable UAS to be employed at the point of greatest need, by the most appropriate operator, maximizing the achieved effect in rapidly evolving tactical situations.

Dave Dixon, Lead Engineer, QinetiQ commented: “The delivery of this landmark airborne exchange of control is a major achievement for the DATUM team and has positive implications for the future development and application of Crewed-Uncrewed Teaming. Greater use of this capability will increase efficiency, reduce crewed workload and improve the operational effectiveness of missions.”

“We’re pleased to have accomplished this hugely successful demonstration and look forward to working together with our partners to ensure outcomes are put to operational use.”

Both the live demonstration and the parallel synthetic trial were conducted using QinetiQ’s autonomy and policy management software, ACCSIOM, managing the same multi-platform mission in the real world and the virtual. The data captured during the synthetic trial is now being analyzed and compared with live trial data to investigate and inform requirements for Digital Test & Evaluation. This will strengthen how QinetiQ supports its customers as they prepare for military operations.

DATUM was delivered with the support of the Royal Navy, who loaned 744 Naval Air Squadron aircrew into the demonstration. After a short training programme delivered by QinetiQ, the squadron was able to task the UAS systems with mission instructions, allowing for the successful exchange of control between the two helicopter crews in the demonstration. The crews used QinetiQ’s CAPTEAM application on COTS tablets coupled with COTS IP radios to provide a carry-on situational awareness and UAS tasking system.

DATUM is an internally funded project spanning multiple Integrated Delivery Teams (IDTs) in QinetiQ’s Air and Science & Technology businesses within the UK Defence Sector of QinetiQ. ACCSIOM is being developed under QinetiQ investment funding. The Q-Works delivery team was chosen to manage this project as an ‘independent’ agile delivery service.

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