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Establishing the CODE for Unmanned Aircraft to Fly as Collaborative Teams

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Posted January 22, 2015

The U.S. military’s investments in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have proven invaluable for missions from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to tactical strike. Most of the current systems, however, require constant control by a dedicated pilot and sensor operator as well as a large number of analysts, all via telemetry. These requirements severely limit the scalability and cost-effectiveness of UAS operations and pose operational challenges in dynamic, long-distance engagements with highly mobile targets in contested electromagnetic environments.

DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to develop algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) well beyond the current state of the art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE would enable mixed teams of unmanned aircraft to find targets and engage them as appropriate under established rules of engagement, leverage nearby CODE-enabled systems with minimal supervision, and adapt to situations due to attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats—all under the command of a single human mission supervisor. CODE envisions improvements that would help transform UAS operations from requiring multiple people to operate a single UAS to having one person able to oversee six or more unmanned vehicles simultaneously.

DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to develop algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) well beyond the current state of the art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE would enable mixed teams of unmanned aircraft to find targets and engage them as appropriate under established rules of engagement, leverage nearby CODE-enabled systems with minimal supervision, and adapt to situations due to attrition of friendly forces or the emergence of unanticipated threats—all under the command of a single human mission supervisor. CODE envisions improvements that would help transform UAS operations from requiring multiple people to operate a single UAS to having one person able to oversee six or more unmanned vehicles simultaneously.

DARPA’s Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to overcome these challenges by developing algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft well beyond the current state-of-the-art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces’ ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace. CODE researchers seek to create a modular software architecture that is resilient to bandwidth limitations and communications disruptions, yet compatible with existing standards and capable of affordable retrofit into existing platforms.

DARPA has released a Special Notice (https://go.usa.gov/JXFd) inviting interested parties to identify their interest in participation in select Phase 1 CODE meetings. DARPA is particularly interested in participants with capabilities, methodologies, and approaches that are related to CODE research and focused on revolutionary approaches to unmanned aircraft systems, autonomy and collaborative operations. Responses to the Special Notice will be used to select the participants and should not contain intellectual, confidential, proprietary or other privileged information.

Two meetings are currently planned: an Open Architecture Meeting and a Technology Interchange Meeting. The Open Architecture Meeting will review the requirements and approaches for making the CODE open architecture compatible with communication-constrained, distributed, highly autonomous collaborative systems. During the Technology Interchange Meeting, invited participants will present technologies for potential incorporation into the demonstration planned for Phases 2 and 3 of the program and ensure that CODE leverages the best available technologies from all possible sources.

Source: DARPA

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