Multi-Con: A Novel Extensible Architecture for Multi-RPA Control Employing Multi-Modal Technologies

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8650-11-M-6204
Agency Tracking Number: F103-036-2354
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: AF103-036
Solicitation Number: 2010.3
Small Business Information
15400 Calhoun Drive, Suite 400, Rockville, MD, -
DUNS: 161911532
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Wei Chen
 Senior Research Scientist
 (301) 294-5278
Business Contact
 Mark James
Title: Director, Contracts and Proposals
Phone: (301) 294-5221
Research Institution
ABSTRACT: As more and more RPAs are pushed into military service, significant challenges have emerged, e.g., the interfaces for one operator to control multiple RPAs. There is an absence of novel and extensible multiple-RPA control and management architectures, which would enable clear understanding of the operational implications of the interactions between human and machine in continuous, long-term and complex operations. Our innovation is Multi-Con: a novel, extensible agent-based architecture for the management and control of multiple remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) employing state-of-the-art multi-modal technologies for urban warfare. Multi-Con is flexible and extensible to accommodate both new capabilities of existing RPAs and novel RPAs in the future. Multi-Con includes (1) an integrated architecture employing various functionally-connected constituent components, (2) an investigation of the crosscutting technologies for the underlying algorithms, the information flow and control flow, and the communication interface and protocols among the components, (3) the development of a suitable scenario for proof-of-feasibility, and (4) a trade study to compare candidate solutions and present performance metrics for the evaluation of multi-RPA control systems. We will explore the connection of Multi-Con with the funding agency"s existing technologies/programs to achieve the openness, generality and interoperability of the proposed technology. BENEFIT: The anticipated Phase I results will provide a flexible and extensible architecture, Multi-Con, which manages its potentially heterogeneous RPA devices effectively and integrates state-of-the-art MMI technologies. This project addresses a huge market that faces this challenge: a single operator must control multiple distributed RPAs for continuous long-term complex missions. The functionalities of Multi-Con could be componentized, possibly as plug-ins, and ported to many various domains and existing systems. We have identified initial transition paths for Phase I, II and further stages. The immediate (human) users of Multi-Con include RPA operators, commanders, military planners, and IT personnel, etc. Potential customers may include the funding agency (AFRL, AVIARI) and other U.S. Agencies, e.g., various RPA/UAV programs from the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps., which are all targeting complex RPA/UAV control, e.g., AFRL Distributed Mission Operations and Air Operation Center, as well as Navy/Coast Guard Maritime Interdiction Operations. The civilian sector may benefit as well, e.g., commercial air traffic control, complex manufacturing operations, smart grid power generation and distribution, border patrol, search and rescue, and the film industry.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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