The US military seeks capabilities to empower small units to destroy, disrupt, degrade or delay potential adversaries’ anti-access and area denial capabilities to enable joint and coalition multi-domain operations at appropriate times and locations. A vital technical solution is leveraging the collaboration of a large number of low-cost, autonomous, unmanned air and ground systems equipped with proper tools and effectors.
DARPA issued a Direct-to-Phase II SBIR in 2019, aiming to develop a robust, scalable, distributed computation platform that enables secure and trusted collaboration and processing across a heterogeneous mix of small autonomous platforms.
C-3 teamed with GreenSight, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) provider offering a broad spectrum of NDAA/EO13981 compliant products. The team won the opportunity to create the technical solution for DARPA. A UAS swarm to survey an area collaboratively for search and rescue.
The communication subsystem is a critical component of UAS, without which members of a UAS swarm cannot collaborate with each other. C-3 was in charge of the entire communication stack for a UAS swarm. C-3 must address the following challenges.
Visual information generated by any swarm member is often needed by multiple other members for collaborative area sweeping and target identification. But individualized mobility among swarm members results in constantly varying network topology and intermittent connections.
The UAS swarm is expected to operate in contested environments, where adversaries may disrupt communications or force the swarm to use a very lossy wireless channel.
Information security is vital for tactical applications. The communication subsystem must protect information confidentiality and data integrity in the presence of persistent cyber attacks.
C-3 developed and prototyped the full stack of the communication subsystem by combining C-3’s Omnisci® Radio and Omnisci® DTM System together, working in concert with the open-source Named Data Network (NDN). The Omnisci® Radio offers innately high-efficiency one-to-many transmissions, improving the information sharing among swarm members at the fundamental radio layer. Working on top of NDN, the Omnisci® DTM system facilitates distributed computing among swarm members by maximizing the information availability among all members of the swarm proactively and opportunistically.
At the end of the project, together with Greensight, we demonstrated a team of USA working collaboratively to efficiently sweep a field and successfully locate and identify the target to be rescued.
This case study highlights C-3’s full stack capability covering all aspects of communication systems for a network of autonomous platforms. It also demonstrated the breadth and versatility of C-3’s product offering, which can be used independently or jointly to achieve diversified purposes. More importantly, this case study is proof of C-3’s research, development, and prototyping capability, as well as C-3’s in-depth experience in collaboration with other companies to serve the Government’s needs for applied research and technical solutions.