REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s Aviation Development Directorate is developing a simulator under the Synergistic Unmanned Manned Intelligent Teaming, or SUMIT, program to enhance situational awareness, provide greater lethality, and improve survivability for the Warfighter.
“The SUMIT program is an early step in a new paradigm for technology development that occurs completely in a synthetic environment from concept exploration to training,” said Dr. Jay Moorthy, CCDC AvMC ADD.
“The Warfighter is offered a seamless experience with the ability to shape technologies in early concept stages and to train with the same technologies once matured, all in the same synthetic environment.”
According to Layne Merritt, deputy director of the CCDC AvMC ADD, SUMIT is the “director” for advanced manned-unmanned teaming operations. “Without the director or mission commander, you just have a bunch of aircraft flying around, not a team,” he explained.
The Future Open Rotorcraft Cockpit Environment, or FORCE, is a government-owned modeling and simulation testbed. The reconfigurable, extensible and portable platform provides readiness to the U.S. Army by enabling innovative technology evaluation through rapid integration timelines.
“We’re looking to evaluate the impact of autonomy, the human-machine interface, and decision-aiding tools on an air mission commander performing manned/ unmanned teaming missions,” said Dr. Tom Alicia, CCDC AvMC ADD engineering research psychologist. “Those (three key) terms are the core evaluation components that we’re (seeking).”
Three vendors have had or will have the opportunity to install their technology in the simulator and, because common metrics have been established, each technology can be evaluated consistently for the core evaluation components. “There’s no down select that’s happening here,” said Alicia. “Each of the three vendors are helping us learn how to evaluate the autonomy, human-machine interface, and decision-aiding tools in manned-unmanned teaming contexts.”
A main goal in the development of this simulator is to have the capability to evaluate manned/ unmanned teaming, or MUM-T, technologies. “It’s a need, it’s a capability gap, and it’s a force multiplier,” said Alicia. “Whether government-developed or industry-developed, we need to be able to determine if (different solutions are) effective and how effective they are.”
The FORCE simulator is designed to be flexible and has been created with open-system architecture in mind. “As long as the technology adheres to the open-system architecture design (e.g., standardized communication protocols, Future Airborne Capabilities Environment Technical Standard alignment) the integration process will be streamlined for years to come,” Alicia said.
Because there are so many layers involved, it is imperative that the separate simulation systems are able to talk to each other. For example, the unmanned aircraft system and sensor, laser, and missile payloads must be able to communicate with one another during a mission.
FORCE demonstrates an iterative integration approach for innovative technology, meaning that the level of simulation reliability will incrementally improve as future technologies are assimilated.
“Controlling multiple unmanned aircraft at once is fundamental to our advanced manned-unmanned concept,” Merritt said. “Our SUMIT team has developed a simulation facility where we can easily integrate various human-machine interface technologies to obtain early feedback from researchers and operational pilots to make the systems more effective and the operational concept a reality.”
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command’s core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.