UAS Ground Control Station

As Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) help keep pilots safe, our airspace is becoming increasingly crowded.  It has never been more important that we develop UAS ground systems that can efficiently relay flight data back to the pilots flying these aircraft remotely.

Challenges & Trends

The demand for unmanned aerial aircraft is growing at an exceptional pace, and the use of UAS continues to expand. These systems have proven ideal for complex reconnaissance and surveillance missions that pose significant risk to human life as well as for mundane tasks where a human pilot is unnecessary.  Militarily UAS's are being successfully employed within all of the armed forces in real missions at many tactical levels.  New commercial target applications include oil pipeline inspection, weather systems monitoring, crop dusting, forest fire surveillance, virtual real estate tours.  As the demand for UAS's continues to increase, so does the need for UAS subsystems, in particular for ground stations with sophisticated UAS control and situational awareness software.  While the number of applications for UAS's continues to grow year after year and as airspace becomes more crowded, it is critical that UAS ground station displays intuitively provide system and flight data for the pilot to ensure flight safety and mission success. 

The Solution

Unlike traditional aircraft displays, there is little in the way of an established software development process or software tool workflow for UAS ground station application development.   However, UAS ground station displays and traditional aircraft displays still share many commonalities.  UAS pilots still need to receive flight data and aircraft system information in real-time, and situational awareness is critical in order to plot flight paths and avoid collisions.  Pilots still require a digital human-machine interface in order to interact with the system, and the underlying code must still be certified if the aircraft is to fly in commercial airspace.  Thus, many of the software development tools and processes required for the development of commercial and military aircraft displays also apply to UAS's.  

UAS Ground Station InterfacePresagis avionics graphics development tools have been used to develop a wide variety of avionics display applications for safety and mission critical embedded applications for over twenty years.  These tailored software development tools have been used by many of the world's largest avionics systems integrators on hundreds of aircraft programs globally.  Today, VAPS XT ushers in a new era of flexibility and object-oriented design for avionics development in general and is a perfectly suited software product for UAS ground station display development.  Using VAPS XT, users can quickly prototype their UAS ground station HMI and validate those designs with pilots in an iterative fashion.  HMIs target applications include mission monitoring, mission planning, and flight control monitoring.  The objects and graphics within the HMI can be driven by any external data source as required.  The HMIs can also be integrated with digital map software and can include object overlays, such as an ownship or other aircraft, for navigation and situational awareness.  The tool also supports robust automatic code generation for desktop PC, ruggedized laptops, and embedded systems designed for mission critical environments, such as a remote or moveable ground stations.   Changes and updates to the HMI can be made quickly and painlessly during the entire development phase, even for deployment to embedded systems.   Finally, options are available to support DO-178B certification where required.

VAPS XT provides a proven development approach and workflow for both traditional aircraft displays and displays found in a UAS ground station. By leveraging Presagis avionics graphics development tools, software and systems engineers can save considerable time and money developing and deploying their next generation UAS platforms.