Testing the Navy's New UAV Software

March 2, 2017 by The GTech Marketing Team

The Navy tested its new unmanned aerial vehicle UAV software in a "simulated beyond visual range combat scenario" (BVR). The purpose of the exercise was to see how the software worked with existing drone technology.

Here are two important points from the test: The AI software used for the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allows for a "Goal Reasoning" function to make slight adjustments to the mission as needed. In practice this means drones are being designed with decision making ability, within a limited range, to assist the overall mission. The simulation uses a human operator to direct a team of unmanned vehicles coordinating their mission and operating in "highly contested environments". 

The program works like this:

Multiple UAVs guided by the TBM software (also known as 'wingman') conduct pre-programmed flight missions. One operator coordinates multiple aerial vehicles with a lead drone; each one has limited autonomous functions. Some of the programs allow the operator to upload different missions on to the UAVs or change the mission along the way. The UAVs 'reason' through on-board sensors.

The AI functions built into the drones allow it to alter course or mission without control from the operator. Dr. David W. Aha head of Adaptive System Section, NCARAI said "The main idea here is if the UAV/wingman is left to its own devices, it has the ability to recognize when or how to change its goal or objective..."

The software for 'wingman' is in the early stages and more trial runs can be expected.  

The TBM software is a coordinated effort among the Naval Research Laboratory, the Naval Air Systems Command, and the Air Force Research Lab.