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Autonomous Decision Support for Unmanned Vehicle Control in a Multi-vehicle, Multi-domain Environment


OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate software tools with the capability to provide operators of a multi-vehicle, multi-domain (air, ground and sea) common control station with decision support for real-time re-tasking and re-planning of multiple assets and the ability to visualize data and information in a complex multi-domain environment. DESCRIPTION: Mission planning and operation of single unmanned vehicles is performed routinely by operators. There is a considerable amount of current development within both industry and government in support of these activities based on concepts ranging from basic decision theory to full automation of single vehicles. SBIR topics such as ONR managed N05-T017 NAVAIR PMA-281 managed N111-022 respectively titled Mixed-initiative Interaction Module for Littoral and Mine Warfare (MIIM-LMW) and Intelligent Proxies for Automated Mission Planning focus on the automation of unmanned vehicle mission planning problems. When simultaneously dealing with multiple unmanned vehicles in multiple domains the operator or mission commander's decision making processes are impeded by current state-of-the-art capabilities to display pertinent information. Limitations are inherent in current control systems during re-planning and re-tasking of vehicles in situations when target priorities change, a vehicle experiences a malfunction or encounters fuel limitations or inclement weather conditions and other situations. Decision making must be made in real time and many scenarios increase the complexity of decision making to a point which makes it nearly impossible for an operator to make the necessary changes. Academia and industry are addressing the topic of multi-vehicle, multi-domain, single operator issues as outlined in such reports as [ref1, ref2]. Automating complex real-time mission planning will demand development of not only novel, non-deterministic, decision-theoretic, intelligent algorithms that can perform these functions but also provide a unique human-computer interface to visualize the problems and recommended decisions. Simplicity of visualization will be required to allow operators uncomplicated control of multi-vehicle, multi-domain operations. Development should be conducted within an open architecture. Performance and evaluation metrics will need to be established in order to determine the degree of benefit of the solution. Ref3, Ref4 and Ref5 are sample reports from academia and industry providing an overview of research related to the topic. It does not imply endorsement nor guidance. PHASE I: Develop and determine feasibilty of a conceptual approach for the above mentioned complex problem and provide a limited simulation of proposed techniques including preliminary visualization concepts. PHASE II: Full software development that will demonstrate the ability to re-plan, re-task, and re-assign unmanned multi-vehicle missions based on a variety of factors and situations and visualize results to control multi-vehicle multi-domain systems using open architecture. PHASE III: Fully integrate phase II software into the PMA-281 Common Control System (CCS) for testing and performance validation and verification. Dual use Application: This capability is suitable for a broad range of government missions, e.g. homeland security (border security, coastal patrol) fighting forest fires, and some industrial&commercial applications. PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This capability is suitable for a broad range of government missions, e.g. homeland security (border security, coastal patrol) fighting forest fires, and some industrial&commercial applications.
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