Agent Oriented Software (AOS), a tiny Cambridge, UK-based company, is taking on the Goliaths of the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) world by making UAVs think for themselves.

AOS, on the East of England Aerospace stand (Hall 4, E10), has developed software that runs on a tiny Hewlett Packard iPAQ handheld computer, yet lets UAVs make complex decisions.

Dr Andrew Lucas, AOS managing director, says that most 'unmanned' air vehicles are anything but. "The truth is, they may not have a pilot, but you need a massive team of people on the ground to fly them - each Global Hawk needs more than 25 people behind the scenes.

"Most UAVs fly from a fixed set of instructions, so they really aren't that clever. But with our software, UAVs can evaluate incoming data and act accordingly, essentially thinking for themselves."


AOS conducted what it describes as the world's first truly autonomous intelligent agent-controlled flight in Australia earlier this month. A 5kg (11lb) Codarra Avatar UAV chose the best route to fly after evaluating real-time flight and weather data via a direct link to its auto-pilot and Global Positioning System (GPS).

Intelligent agents can handle in-flight incidents, such as loss of radio communications, poor landing visibility or avoiding radar intercepts, by referring to their built-in computerised contingency plans.

Lucas says: "We envisage a time when a fleet of UAVs could be sent out on a search and rescue mission and organise their own search patterns depending on the weather they encountered.

"For example, if visibility reduced, the UAVs would let the infra-red camera-equipped models take over while the others moved into clearer areas. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

"We believe the biggest market for UAVs will be in the commercial sector," says Lucas. "With intelligent agent software, an extensive search and rescue mission could be undertaken by just 10 small UAVs. That makes it very cost effective."

Agent Oriented Software already supplies its JACK agent software to both the UK Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ (Hall 1, A19).



Source: Flight Daily News