22 Nov 06. Puckapunyal (Victoria), Australia. – BAE Systems has achieved a world first in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology. The Company has successfully networked ground and surveillance radars with UAVs, fusing the information from dispersed ground and airborne sensors into a single image of the battlespace visible across numerous systems, in real time.
The technology, known as Decentralised Data Fusion, was recently demonstrated during a series of flight trails held at Puckapunyal, Victoria, Australia as part of the Decentralised Data Fusion Capability Technology Demonstrator Program.
Brad Yelland, integrated autonomous systems manager, BAE Systems Australia said: “The trials couldn’t have gone better. The customer was able to see first hand a network of ground and airborne sensors dynamically reconfiguring themselves in response to an ever-changing fused common picture of the battlespace.”
The demonstration was witnessed by representatives from the Australian Department of Defence and SMEs engaged in UAV technology.
“We effectively networked eight separate pieces of equipment: two UAVs which were operating autonomously; a ground surveillance radar; a weapons location radar, which was detecting live artillery firing at fixed and mobile targets; two soldiers in the field with electronic binoculars and palm top computers and two soldiers moving through the battlefield in jeeps,” said Brad.
“Our technology allowed the networks to be dynamically reconfigured; when the weapons locations radar picked up artillery firing that information was immediately available at the UAV, which promptly went to investigate. We were able to track mobile targets moving through the terrain with the ground surveillance radar even though the targets were actually out of sight. And if a UAV flew over a different sensor it would bring that sensor into the network creating a new picture of the battlespace and would then share that information with the rest of the network regardless of their location.”
The unique feature of this technology lies in its decentralised nature. “Traditionally data fusion has been centralised, with all information coming together at a central point before being disseminated. If you attack that central point you can effectively bring down and jam the whole system,” said Brad. “With DDF there is no single point of failure; the fusion takes place at every point in the network. Take out one and all the other elements continue to function and share information.”
In addition to the demonstration of the DDF technology, BAE Systems Australia also used the trials at Puckapunyal to demonstrate its UAV operational capability and the capability of the BAE Systems Australian UAV ground system to control multiple UAVs concurrently via STANAG 4586 interfaces – capabilities directly applicable to the forthcoming Air 7000 Phase 1B programme. BAE Systems is also looking at future applications for the technology.