Interoperability, Interoperability Profiles (IOP), Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems (JAUS), Unmanned Ground Systems (UGS), Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV)
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 a 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. On the other hand, these systems require still a lot of tele-operation. 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, i.e. 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), emergency services 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 IST-107-RTG used this attempt 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 organizers.
Consequently, the next step was to plan and implement a capability concept demonstrator (CCD) that will use these standards and validate the compatibility chain from the acquisition of ISR data on the UGV up to the end user terminal of a C2 system. Every participating nation did that for their particular UGV and C2 system but based on the agreed set of standards mentioned above.
We acknowledged that much related research was already done and was/is done within NATO STO Panels. Apart from realizing the CCD, our goal was to identify additional related RTGs and other potential collaborators such as EDA to achieve a synergy among them in the area of UGS & C2 and thus generate results with a higher impact.