Drones, Robotics, and non-Human Platforms: Blueforce Changes the SWaPP Equation
Drones and autonomous platforms continue to be of huge interest to commanders because they provide ground truth intelligence (to a degree) because of actual eyes-on the incident. What is validating to us is that more and more commanders see the drone platform as something more than mere imagery collection. If you are the incident commander on a train derailment, understanding whether or not the tanker cars are leaking is important information. More complex emergencies benefit even more with enhanced sensor data, which transcends mere imagery. Advances in compute power, communications, and form factor enable us to push sensor fusion closer to the actual sensors that are a growing part of more robust drone payload packages to include signal, radiological, environmental, weather, and others.
The massive uptake in drones can be attributed to advances in SWaPP (we added the second “P”). SWaP has been a huge component that has kept the defense contractors charging the big bucks to governments. Yet more and more agencies are turning to commercial off the shelf providers of drone packages. It is the market shift from Beltway providers to mass market providers. We now have multiple commercial providers of autonomous air platforms that allow for rapid construction of off the shelf tactical airborne solutions. Blueforce SWaPP boils down to this:
- S = Space: The available physical payload space on any autonomous platform for sensors beyond mere imagery.
- W= Weight: The available weight for these packages given the lift and airtime for a given platform.
- P1 = Power: The total available current to power all on-board systems.
- P2 = Processing (ignored by legacy providers but now totally relevant): The total processing power to make sense of sensor data in the air, versus jamming all pre-processed data to the ground.
The idea of a 1GHz processor on a small mobile device that could be attached to an airframe was pure science fiction just 8 years ago. Qualcom introduced the first 1GHz smartphone processor in 2009. Per weight and processing, we now have quad core smartphones that weigh in under 128 grams/4.5 oz (i.e., LG K3). More importantly, these devices with Blueforce software far exceed the actual loiter time of the air platform upon which they ride. The value of Blueforce to SWaPP is that we enable more leverage of edge-based silicon for processing and less bandwidth consumption, which equals more time on target.
Blueforce doesn’t make sensors, but we do make a patented best-in-class portable software platform that runs on VERY small computing form factors. Even better, the platform enables rapid extensibility that means agencies can leverage legacy sensors, or the ones they are looking at for the future. More importantly, the software enables MULTIPLE sensor streams to be pre-processed and then fused into one secure and subscribable stream. It’s the very definition of network centric operations colliding with system-of-systems approaches using loosely coupled interfaces. By dividing sensor processing tasks into discrete pluggable modules, the processing problem can be easily segmented and optimized for a given sensor. Each of the plugins do the pre-processing on the data stream before getting to the main BTAC fusion engine for transfer. The result is absolute application and visualization flexibility.
Let’s look at the legacy PLATFORM CENTRIC models with multiple sensors in a payload:
- Each with their own long range comms path (massive power consumption – air to ground)
- Each with their own data format (massive raw bandwidth – moving every bit to the ground)
- Each with a proprietary processor and viewer once it gets to the ground (cognitive stovepipe)
Let’s look at the BLUEFORCE FAR EDGE FUSION model with multiple sensors in a payload:
- Each with their own low energy comms path to include BLE, serial, Zigbee, etc (massive power savings)
- Blueforce Tactical Kernal with software pre-processor for each sensor using small Android, iOS, and WIN10 IoT CORE devices (pre-processing minimizes bandwidth)
- BTAC sensor fusion (single stream of pre-processed data minimizes bandwidth)
- Single Pane of Glass View: Single stream of XML delivers real just-in-time and ad-hoc visualization (ZERO cognitive stovepipes
Blueforce delivers a more adaptive construction, fusion, and exfil of total mission ISR data using a fraction of the power and communications bandwidth from platform centric approaches. We have been delivering fused sensing since 2008. Our patented open-systems platform products are changing the game. Biotelemetry, multi-gas, radiological, and other environmental sensors, amplifying operator effectiveness in traditional drone missions. This capability will be on display at our Field Day in Fayetteville, NC on June 1, 2017. For more information on the event, please visit our Event page at https://www.blueforcedev.com/events/fayetteville2017/