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ONR developing universal remote for unmanned vehicles

Jun. 1, 2013 - 10:49AM   |  
A screenshot from an Office of Naval Research video outlining the science behind a remote-control system that could cross unmanned platforms. See the whole video at militarytimes.com/video-network, keyword search 'common control.'
A screenshot from an Office of Naval Research video outlining the science behind a remote-control system that could cross unmanned platforms. See the whole video at militarytimes.com/video-network, keyword search 'common control.' ()
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New software being designed by Navy researchers will allow one device to control multiple types of unmanned vehicles across all four services — a device that could allow more sailors to operate these high-tech instruments.

It could also save the service money, said Wayne Perras, a senior adviser for experimentation at ONR. Instead of multiple training sessions on multiple proprietary systems, Perras said, “any military service person [could] take control of the payload of any vehicle.”

Users don’t steer the vehicle, per se — instead, they input what point they want to look at, and the camera and vehicle move to give the user a good view, Perras said.

The new software works on a device that looks like a ruggedized iPad and is already in use in the military, Perras said. Labeled the Common Control System, the new software would give sailors the ability to control air-, sea- and ground-based unmanned vehicles across the services.

A sailor will also be able to relay video control of the vehicle to someone else. For example, a sailor who launches a UAV from a ship can pass control to a Marine on land, who can manipulate the camera and view footage from over a nearby hill or around a building.

Researchers successfully operated an Army RQ-7 Shadow UAV with the system in a test last July, Perras said, adding that there were “no technical reasons” the software couldn’t reach the fleet by the end of fiscal 2013.

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