Open Architecture Initiatives Bolster Unmanned Sensors and Systems

Military Embedded Systems

Published in Military Embedded Systems

The advent of unmanned systems reflects a huge aspect of warfare – that of protecting the warfighter – through the development of platforms that can be operated by humans from a distance, keeping them out of harm’s way. Some of these platforms are actually on the way to becoming fully autonomous. Hurdles in the way of both manufacturers and end-users include interoperability and cost-efficiency. Although these hurdles are challenging, organizations including The Open Group and corresponding consortia have made noticeable strides to standardize in an effort to universalize otherwise complex unmanned systems.

Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions can be lethal for troops; as such, unmanned aerial systems (UASs) are ideally engineered for such scenarios. As the eyes and ears of treacherous military tasks, the unmanned platforms have become essential machinery on the battlefield since their initial development and use decades ago.

As both technology and war have evolved and progressed over time, so too have UASs and the operations that they are deployed to carry out. Requirements centered around withstanding longer missions, avoiding detection, and the implementation of countermeasure systems continue to drive UAS advancements and inspire innovations in hardware and software development.

While today’s missions have become more complex and require more processing power, unmanned platforms are running up against the need – requested by both manufacturers and end-users – to simplify design and ease deployment. Moving away from platform-centric architectures not only encourages healthy competition in the market but could allow for more efficient operation and maintenance (O&M) in theater.

Open architecture initiatives led by such consortia as The Open Group, Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA), Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), and Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) are pushing for standards-based designs to ensure that these highly effective unmanned systems can keep pace with the evolving threat environment while remaining streamlined in their design. Officials believe that aligning UASs with the wave of standardization is the necessary next step in open architecture implementation.

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