gray eagle UAS

Army building universal controller for drones

In what could prove to be a big development for unmanned aerial systems for the military, the Army is working toward a universal interface that would allow drone pilots to control more than one type of aircraft.

Under the current framework, soldiers are trained to operate a single UAS model. Under the new vision, operators would control whatever assets are apportioned to a specific environment, giving the Army a universal operator and a universal control interface.

“We look for that universal control interface to be scalable, tailorable and modular” said Col. Paul Cravey, Army Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for UAS. He envisions the system deployed to operations centers, permanent bases, tactical vehicles or helicopters.  In demonstrations over the past few years, Apache helicopter pilots have been able to control drones. 

The interface will be built both with a government-developed option that works with current materiel and with alternatives tailorable to current and future off-the-shelf products. 

In the next few years, the Army also expects to move to the Tactical Open Government Architecture, which would allow Army unmanned aircraft systems operators to control any small UAS in their airspace. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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