Cloud-Based Ground Control Software for Drone Control, Management & Mission Planning

Unveiling the Technology Trio Powering Cloud Ground Control’s Uncrewed Fleet Management Platform

With three cutting edge technologies, Cloud Ground Control is optimizing multi-uncrewed vehicle operations at scale By Sarah Simpson / 23 May 2023
Cloud Ground Control is optimising multi-uncrewed vehicle operations at scale
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breaking down data silos for optimized mission coordination

Around the world, businesses are ramping up their use of uncrewed vehicles across daily operations. Autonomous drones, ground rovers and sea vessels are helping to not only reduce costs, but to also vastly improve workplace health and safety.

However, businesses that rely on drone technology, often own a diverse range of vehicles and payloads from different manufacturers, all usually incompatible. This lack of interoperability impedes rolling out multi-vehicle, multi-domain operations. Platforms operating independently of each other, cannot deliver the benefits of a connected, coordinated fleet – benefits such as better situational awareness, improved transparency and optimized mission coordination.

The MavLink communication protocol directly addresses this issue. MavLink uses a common language to connect platforms across manufacturers, architecture and interfaces. By standardizing how different systems talk with each other, it facilitates communication (that is transmission of data) between system components such as autopilots, ground control stations and other peripherals.

Due to its open source nature and lightweight design, MavLink is easily customized and highly resource efficient. Additionally, it’s very reliable using features such as packet acknowledgement to ensure data is transmitted safely.

Tying MavLink and Cloud Ground Control

CGConnect – a plug and play connectivity platform – is an onboard micro-cellular modem for uncrewed drones, ground rovers and sea vessels. Using a 4G/5G network, it links any MavLink compatible device to Cloud Ground Control – a cloud based ground control station.

By operating on the MavLink standard, CGConnect and Cloud Ground Control eliminate software data silos and remove interoperability issues. The platform enables pilots and mission commanders to view and remotely control multiple autonomous vehicles, robots and payloads across air, land and sea – regardless of their manufacturer.

Integrating the MavLink supported CGConnect into a vehicle’s design expands the product’s functionality and applications while saving development time. By providing access to the cloud, it allows manufacturers to fine-tune their product’s competitive advantage, expanding the robot’s potential and ultimately unlocking access to new markets.

WebRTC and LiveKit

empowering massive scale operations with uncompromised control

Innovation in uncrewed vehicle and robot technology is booming. Blazing a trail, operators working in search and rescue and environmental monitoring are edging to the top of the list of early adopters. By using autonomous drones, ground vehicles and sea vessels in their fight against natural disasters, it’s enabled them to be more responsive, without exposing themselves to greater risk.

However, operators are only as effective as their equipment allows. In order to maximise mission outcomes, UAV pilots and mission commanders not only need access to data from their vehicles, they also need to send data (commands) to their vehicles – and to do this remotely, in real time and at scale.

Launched in 2011 by Google, WebRTC is an open source protocol that offers this functionality. WebRTC enables real time media communications directly between browsers and devices without the need for any additional third party software or plugins. While at the time considered groundbreaking, its applications were limited due to difficulties in deploying at scale. Then when Covid hit, demand for real time communication infrastructure exploded. And in 2021, to meet this demand, LiveKit was launched – an open source, server side technology that leverages WebRTC to natively build and scale real time audio and low latency video experiences across apps or websites – for between ten and ten thousand people.

Linking WebRTC, LiveKit and Cloud Ground Control

Cloud Ground Control incorporates WebRTC and LiveKit technology to instantly relay real time telemetry, cloud storage, video and payload data both to and from up to 1000 uncrewed vehicles – all available simultaneously through a web browser.

Clean Earth Rovers deploys Cloud Ground Control across its fleet of autonomous ocean cleaning robots to collect physical and chemical pollutants. The Cloud Ground Control platform enables users to transfer control of the robots between operator and central command and to view first hand footage from the robots through a web browser with near zero latency – all enabling better operational transparency, communication and coordination across stakeholders.

uncrewed fleet management platform

Apache Kafka

unlocking critical insights with real time and retrospective data processing

In 1926, Nikola Tesla said that when wireless technology is perfectly applied, we’ll be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Fast forward almost 100 years and wireless networks are indeed the bedrock of global communications. Yet not even Nikola Tesla envisaged that when perfectly applied, this technology would be responsible for creating one of the world’s most sought after assets – Big Data.

But despite being around for over 30 years, Big Data to many businesses is still an enigma. Of course, the true value of any data is in the analysis – critical insights produce business intelligence. However without this intelligence, businesses can’t make fully informed decisions. Always two steps behind their competitors, they consequently struggle to compete, let alone build a dominant market position.

So in the field of robotics, how can manufacturers and operators fully leverage big data? And what is the best option for processing, storing and analysing data from multiple sources in real time?

Apache Kafka – a platform specifically designed to simplify and facilitate data analysis – is an open-source distributed event streaming platform, capable of moving massive amounts of asynchronous data from points A through to Z and to any other destination technologies as needed, all at the same time.

It enables:

  • The capturing of data from such sources as databases, sensors, mobile devices and cloud services,
  • The storing of data for later retrieval, and
  • The manipulating, processing and analysis of data both retrospectively and in real time.

Connecting Kafka and Cloud Ground Control

Kafka serves as the backbone of Cloud Ground Control’s data infrastructure, enabling the live streaming of high volume telemetry data from multiple vehicles at a massive scale – all available simultaneously to multiple users through a web browser.

Thanks to Kafka’s high scalability and fault tolerance, Cloud Ground Control can reliably ingest, store, process, and forward vast streams of data with minimal latency.

Cloud Ground Control offers operators improved real time situational awareness and enables more informed decisions. By facilitating analysis of stored data, it provides the opportunity to uncover those critical insights that help businesses build a sustainable competitive edge.

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Posted by Sarah Simpson Specialising in digital copy Sarah is an experienced copywriter and researcher. Working with Unmanned Systems Technology Sarah has developed a passion for sourcing unique digital content and a talent for writing about the latest technical innovations in the unmanned sector. Connect & Contact