Scott Sugarman of United Electronic Industries (UEI) shares details with UnmannedSystemsTechnology.com about UEI’s digital system simulation products, UEIPAC systems for unmanned test, logging, and control applications, and plans to roll-out Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) in 2023. This, as well as impressive use-cases in extreme aerospace environments, makes for an insightful read.
United Electronic Industries (UEI) specializes in control, test, monitoring, and validation solutions for unmanned aerial systems, can you tell us more?
For over three decades, UEI has been a leading developer of data acquisition (DAQ), testing, and control solutions for many of the world’s leading aerospace technology firms. A big key to our success has been our rugged and flexible COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) systems, including interchangeable chassis and 90+ I/O board options, providing the maximum potential for design re-use.
Our systems are generally Ethernet based, which allows the I/O systems to maintain viability even as computer technology changes. UEI hardware can be deployed as an embedded/standalone device or tethered to a host PC. As mentioned above, we offer the widest assortment of I/O capability in the industry. In addition to standard analog and digital I/O, we provide interfaces for VDT (input and simulated output), synchro/resolver (input and simulated output), ICP/IEPE, strain gauge, avionics (including ARINC-429/453/708, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC-664), CAN and serial communications. Another unique aspect of UEI’s product line is the wide variety of simulated sensors including thermocouple, strain gauge, and RTDs, function generator output and high voltage/current analog voltage output.
From systems suitable for deployment on unmanned craft, to those more targeted at SIL/HIL laboratory applications, and to providing the I/O for a wide variety of simulator/trainers, the breadth of our product line ensures we can offer 100% of the I/O capability required. We also offer our customers long-term peace of mind with UEI’s 10-yr Availability Guarantee and 3-yr standard Hardware Warranty which ensures our customers are not faced with obsolescence issues.
Could you outline the challenges the UEIPAC embedded Programmable Automation Controller has been designed to address?
The UEIPAC system offers an unprecedented combination of flexibility, durability, and high performance as a solution for unmanned test, logging, and control applications. These embedded systems allow user applications complete control over all aspects of the I/O, operating system, and connectivity.
Support for VxWorks, Linux, or Real-time Linux OS is included with pre-compiled example code that allows the user to begin quickly and easily customizing their applications.
Key features our customers value about the UEIPAC:
- -40 to 85º C, 5 G Vibration, 100 G Shock – Tested to MIL-STD-810/461
- Programming in C, C++, Simulink, Python, and more
- PowerPC, SoloX ARM, or Zynq-based processors
- Built-In Test (BIT) from Chassis to Board to Channel
- Active Hardware Security
From the lab to the skies, UEI’s UEIPAC systems have everything you need for quick and easy deployment.
Can you tell us more about UEI’s digital system simulation products and digital twinning capabilities?
Digital twinning helps our customers verify and test their equipment, reducing design cycle times, and adding more test flexibility to ensure application success. We supply I/O and simulation system solutions to help in the build of a customers’ virtual model design aimed to reflect a physical piece of equipment (airplane, UAV/UAS, VTOL/eVTOL, etc.) with multiple sensors that relay data on functionality, performance, efficiency, and more.
This may sound like a traditional Simulation/Stimulation, but a digital twin takes simulating to another level by reproducing a vast virtual physical environment that provides more realistic outcomes using real-time and historical data. Developers can model out various configurations of their aerospace application and even virtually test-fly those configurations rather than a single test process found in typical sim systems.
UEI hardware processes sensor data and simulates it, but it’s all part of a grander, more elaborate verification environment. We like to think of ourselves as the “I/O backbone” for many of our customers’ sophisticated digital twinning systems.
UEI data acquisition and control systems have a reputation for impressive reliability. Can you share with us any use-cases where your I/O systems have been implemented in extremely harsh environments?
Our hardware platform has proven reliable across a wide range of environments from the sea (US Marine LCAC landing ships) to air (USAF Huey Helicopters), and to space (rocket launch pads, space experiments).
A good example: UEI’s 6-Slot PowerDNA Cube was used for NASA’s SAFFIRE program in space. The SAFFIRE missions could only be a success if the DAQ system could withstand a rocket launch, work in an in-orbit environment, and have the flexibility to work with many sensors — UEI checked all these boxes. To ensure success, each of the SAFFIRE modules was equipped with a UEI system that could accurately read data and send control signals to a variety of sensors, such as thermocouples, oxygen and carbon dioxide meters, a pressure transducer, a calibrated radiometer, and two HD video cameras.
Recently, a leading eVTOL manufacturer used our rugged UEIPAC 12-slot military-style chassis on their test aircraft to meet FAA guidelines. UEI was critical for verification and validation on major aspects of the craft, including configurations, flight controls, tiltrotor, and more. Our ruggedized I/O systems combined with the right I/O for test configurations helps our customer meet the necessary goals for full scale production.
What are UEI’s plans for 2023 and beyond?
We are a customer-driven company and have been focused on new capabilities to solve customer challenges. In 2023, we are rolling out Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) capabilities to ensure deterministic communication over reliable network solutions, especially needed for our defense centric clients.
UEI’s Cybersecurity solution suite offers enhanced security capabilities that allow users to completely lockdown the system and control of UEI hardware, which is vital to organizations dealing with today’s growing cyber threats.
Our new Zynq quad-core processor is ideal for embedded control and monitoring systems. Zynq is available on all UEI’s Programmable Automation Controller (UEIPAC) systems. Zynq enables Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP), CPU Affinity and Heterogenous Computing.
UEI will be exhibiting at the following trade shows in the US and Europe this year:
- Satellite Show | March 13-16, 2023 | Washington, DC | Booth #1954
- MDEX | April 19-20, 2023 | Warren, MI | Booth #H12
- Forum 79 VTOL | May 16-18, 2023 | West Palm Beach, FL | Booth #105
- ETTC European Test & Telemetry Show | June 13-14, 2023 | Toulouse, France | Booth #36
- GVSETS | August 15 – August 17, 2022 | Novi,MI
- IEEE AUTOTESTCON | August 28-31, 2023 | National Harbor, MD
- Aerospace Test & Development Show | September 19-20, 2023 | Toulouse, France | Booth #618
- ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Technology Expo | September 20-21, 2023 | Santa Clara, CA | Booth #308
- ATE Automotive Testing Expo | October 24-26, 2023 | Novi, MI | Booth # 8044
You can find more details on the UEI Events page as well as tutorials and success stories on the Videos page >>