Raytheon has released initial details of the first land-based remote control cockpit for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), drawing on video game and simulator technology.
The company unveiled its Universal Control System (UCS)
at the Shepard UV North America 2006
conference taking place this week in Tysons Corner, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC
. The UCS will be the UAV operator’s work station for advanced missions and features three screens to provide 90 º terrain vision similar to flight simulators (see pictures below).
Raytheon says the UCS will draw from advanced video game technology to reduce operator workload and thus reduce human error. “We wanted to put the operator in the UAS [unmanned aerial system] ‘cockpit’ to virtually and dramatically enhance his or her situational awareness. UCS operators will have better situational awareness than any manned platform, which dramatically improves safety,” says Mark Bigham, business development director for Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems division
A 2004 US Federal Aviation Administration study found that human factors were present in 67% of the accidents involving the General Atomics Predator range of UAVs. This figure fell to 21% for the less complex AAI Shadow. As the operation of UAVs gets more complex, the risk of human error will rise, the study concludes, necessitating mitigation.
“We broke down the operator’s tasks and objectives and constructed a system built entirely around them, rather than building the system around the air vehicle first,” says Bigham.