Resilient Autonomous Subsystems for Unmanned Air Systems (UAS)
AREA(S): Battlespace, Information Systems
PROGRAM: NAE Chief Technology Office
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Develop autonomous capabilities that allow teams of unmanned air systems (UAS)
to make decisions independently that satisfy operator-provided mission
objectives in complex, uncertain, denied environments.
The U.S. Navy increasingly relies upon UAS to perform a variety of missions.
Current UAS require continual operator supervision, relying on operators to
devise a course of action in response to unexpected changes in the operating
environment. The dependence upon operator-provided decisions during a mission
reduces mission effectiveness by introducing a dependency on high quality
service communications between the operator and UAS, demanding an undesirably
high operator-to-vehicle ratio for swarming techniques; and additionally,
introducing latencies between UAS sensor observations and UAS reactions. To
improve UAS performance, NAVAIR is developing Research & Autonomy
Innovation Development Environment & Repository (RAIDER), a re-usable
software infrastructure utilizing the Future Airborne Capability Environment
(FACE) standard [Ref 2]. RAIDER is a reusable software infrastructure derived
from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Collaborative
Operations in Denied Environments (CODE) program that enables teams of UAS to
make decisions autonomously in denied environments [Ref 1].
NAVAIR has a requirement to expand RAIDER to support diverse Navy-relevant
missions. This SBIR topic seeks to enable RAIDER expansion by having the
performer produce FACE compliant units of portability (UOPs) and behaviors that
provide UAS with resilient autonomous behaviors and planning services. These
products should focus on adding functionality to accomplish new Strike,
anti-surface warfare (ASW), or anti-submarine warfare (ASuW) missions. The
performer's UOPs should promote operational resilience, and must be capable of
managing unexpected circumstances (including unexpected threats and unexpected
adversary/non-combatant maneuvers) as well as losses of capability due to UAS
damage, unexpected system/subsystem failures, and attrition. RAIDER will be
available to the performing small businesses.
RAIDER UAS UOPs must be capable of satisfying operator-provided objectives and
rules of engagement by generating tactical decisions without further operator
involvement (e.g., search for and track all vessels in a given area, never
approach within 10 miles of a vessel). UOPs must utilize a principled approach
to assure that UAS decisions are appropriate, and made in real time.
Operational resilience should be demonstrated by showing that the on-board
planning with the UOPs is capable of:
- Providing effective UAS coordination with varying degrees of complexity. UOPs
should be capable of coordinating teams of as few as two and as many as thirty
UAS to respond to maneuvers and threats from as many as fifty adversaries.
- Operating in denied environments in which communications are limited and full
connectivity between UAS may not exist for periods of an engagement.
- Guaranteeing that a priori operator-provided rules of engagement are not
violated. Rules of engagement may include geospatial, temporal, and behavioral
- Supporting coordination between heterogeneous teams in which UAS may include
different payloads, communications transceivers, and mobility characteristics.
Develop a UAS capability to quickly and accurately geo-locate and identify
stationary emitters within a region by only using passive RF sensors with
limited communications between the unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) within a UAS. A
collaborative autonomous fusion UOP to generate a nearly common operational
picture (NCOP) amongst a group of UAS is needed. The UOP should address
constraints on communication between UAS, i.e., a reduced subset of information
can be shared. Information includes own-ship telemetry and sensor measurements
or tracks, or a combination of the two. Each UAS must be able to determine
constraints on sharing information with other UAS in the distributed autonomous
systems to support mission success. Such intelligent information sharing must
consider the mission(s) objectives, time constraints, bandwidth constraints,
mission constraints, and the information required to support the mission
Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s)
must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD
5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless
acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by
the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or
subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and
Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this
project as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified
information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its
allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be
required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced
phases of this contract.
I: Develop one or more autonomous UOPs that support a NAVAIR-relevant mission.
Suitable missions may include, but are not limited to, Intelligence,
Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Fast Attack Craft defense. Develop
and design the process that discusses the feasibility and effectiveness of
addressing the passive RF geo-location UAS problem. This process should include
the framework and the algorithms, tools, or UOPs used for the solution.
Potential roadblocks may be encountered; identify them and approaches to
overcome them. Demonstrate UOP resilience in simulation-based experiments. The
Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.
II: Integrate autonomous UOPs into RAIDER-enabled UAS and conduct live flight
demonstrations showing proof of concept for UOP in a collaborative autonomous
mission. Note: A RAIDER-enabled UAS will be provided by the government.
Develop a UAS UOP to quickly and accurately geo-locate and identify stationary
and moving emitters within a region by only using passive RF sensors and with
limited communications between the unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) should be
demonstrated. To find and accurately geo-locate all of the emitters quickly,
the UAVs must autonomously produce a coordinated optimal search and adaptive
plan as emitter data is received real-time while avoiding being attrited if the
enemy radars have developed a track on that asset. Gather metrics from flight
demonstration to show the completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of
identifying, tracking, and localizing emitters.
Demonstrate a collaborative autonomous fusion UOP designed to address
constraints on communication between UAS. Validate that the intelligent
information sharing must show consideration the mission(s) objectives, time
constraints, bandwidth constraints, mission constraints, and the information
required to support the mission objectives. Gather metrics from demonstration
to show fusion, information sharing effectiveness, communications
effectiveness, and ability to thrive and complete desired mission in denied
communications and denied GPS environments. Demonstrate algorithms on
operationally realistic simulated scenarios and modify/extend as necessary to
address any challenges that arise during development and testing.
Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in Description section.
III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Conduct fleet demonstrations, and participate in
discrete and extended fleet experiments to validate new capability. Commercial
applications from a successfully developed technology would include forest fire
management by the Dept. of the Interior. Equipped UAS and unmanned ground
vehicles (UGVs) would be able to work together to fight forest fires in large
swarms of firefighting water “tankers”.
Wierzbanowski, S. “Cooperative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE).”
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). https://www.darpa.mil/program/collaborative-operations-in-denied-environment
“The Open Group FACETM Consortium.” Future Airborne Capability Environment. https://www.opengroup.org/face
Scheidt, DavidH. “Command and Control of Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles.”
Handbook of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Springer, Dordrecht. 2015, pp. 1273-1298.
Autonomous Systems; Artificial Intelligence; Unmanned Air Systems; UAS; Sensor
Fusion; Denied Environment; Communications
** TOPIC NOTICE **
These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.3 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.3 BAA SBIR pre-release on August 23, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on September 24, 2019, and closes October 23, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.
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