C2, Interoperability, Military robotics, Standards, Unmanned Ground Systems
Standards nowadays have a pervasive omnipresence in everyday life; even so most of them remain hidden. The use of these standards enables us to gather information from all over the world. The facts where the information is coming from (location, device, server, etc.), where the user is and what end device he uses remain irrelevant as long as the appropriate standards are used. In the military field there are also many existing standards. However many of them are unused and even if used some of them are not properly implemented. As result multi-national operations often reveal that interoperability even today remains wishful thinking.
In addition Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS) are becoming increasingly relevant in the modern battle-space. These systems can carry massive sensor suits, delivering unprecedented streams of data right from the front line. One the other hand these systems require still a lot of teleoperation. It is very important to realize that the ISR data will remain largely useless if there is no proper way in exchanging the information between the coalition partners and/or piping it into C2 systems. This holds also for the other domains air and sea. For the UAS first steps have been made with the STANAG 4586.
Another factor is that military operations are becoming ever more complex and that the (NATO) military is being deployed ever more often in civil-military (CIMIC) operations such as disaster relief. Such operations involve NATO and also global and local NGO’s, companies (such as telecom providers) and even (groups of) involved citizens. The most of the current NATO C2 structure is not ready regarding standards to effectively and efficiently deal with such operations.
One project that aimed to overcome the resulting “swivel chair” interfaces was/is MAJIIC. The former RTG RTG-052 / IST-107 used this attempted as a seed corn to its work in investigating standards that promote interoperability within coalition UGS. The STANAGs 4545, 4559, 4607, 4609, 4676, 4586, 7023, 2103, 5500 together with ROS, BML, JAUS and IOP were identified as a core set that should be used.
Over the last three years subsets of these standards have been successfully introduced by the RTG into the rule set of the “Military European Land-Robot Trial (ELROB)”. The participating teams had to implement these standards into their robot operating software in order to participate in the event and communicate the ISR results to the organisers.