General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has demonstrated the DARPA-developed Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) autonomy engine on the company’s Avenger Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS).
CODE was used in order to gain further understanding of cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing on larger UAS platforms for air-to-air targeting. Using a network-enabled Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio for mesh network mission communications, GA-ASI was able to demonstrate integration of emerging Advanced Tactical Data Links (ATDL), as well as separation between flight and mission critical systems.
During the autonomous flight, CODE software controlled the manoeuvring of the Avenger UAS for over two hours without human pilot input. GA-ASI extended the base software behavioural functions for a coordinated air-to-air search with up to six aircraft, using five virtual aircraft for the purposes of the demonstration. The software was installed on a small form factor commercial computer, and an operator set mission objectives for the flight in which the autonomy software was used to coordinate the six aircraft to accomplish the air-to-air search objective.
GA-ASI also created ground and air adapter services that passed operator inputs to the group of aircraft using Link 16-formatted messages that followed Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol (JREAP). The open architecture of the CODE software enables communications between the aircraft, the CODE software and the autopilot.
David R. Alexander, President of GA-ASI, commented: “This represents a big step on the path to more sophisticated autonomous missions for unmanned aircraft where operator input can be minimized to support optimal manning of multiple products for complex air battles. For this initial flight, we used Avenger as the flight surrogate for the Skyborg capability set, which is a key focus for GA-ASI’s emerging air-to-air portfolio.”