aerospace & defense technology

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Cov ToC + A Intro How to Navigate the Magazine: At the bottom of each page, you will see a navigation bar with the following buttons: Arrows: Click on the right or left facing arrow to turn the page forward or backward. Introduction: Click on this icon to quickly turn to this page. Cover: Click on this icon to quickly turn to the front cover. Table of Contents: Click on this icon to quickly turn to the table of contents. Zoom In: Click on this magnifying glass icon to zoom in on the page. Zoom Out: Click on this magnifying glass icon to zoom out on the page. Find: Click on this icon to search the document. You can also use the standard Acrobat Reader tools to navigate through each magazine. Welcome to your Digital Edition of Aerospace & Defense Technology May 2014 Intro Cov ToC + A Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics Development Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating On Discrete Terrain UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications The Evolution of Tactical Robots Next-Generation Antenna Design Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs May 2014 SPECIAL ISSUE Unmanned Vehicle & Robotics Technology

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    How to Navigate the Magazine:

    At the bottom of each page, you will see a navigation bar with the following buttons:

    Arrows: Click on the right or left facing arrow to turn the page forward or backward.

    Introduction: Click on this icon to quickly turn to this page.

    Cover: Click on this icon to quickly turn to the front cover.

    Table of Contents: Click on this icon to quickly turn to the table of contents.

    Zoom In: Click on this magnifying glass icon to zoom in on the page.

    Zoom Out: Click on this magnifying glass icon to zoom out on the page.

    Find: Click on this icon to search the document.

    You can also use the standard Acrobat Reader tools to navigate through each magazine.

    Welcome toyour Digital Edition ofAerospace & Defense

    TechnologyMay 2014









    Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics Development

    Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating On Discrete Terrain

    UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications

    The Evolution of Tactical Robots

    Next-Generation Antenna Design

    Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs

    May 2014

    SPECIAL ISSUE Unmanned Vehicle & Robotics Technology

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    Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics Development

    Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating On Discrete Terrain

    UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications

    The Evolution of Tactical Robots

    Next-Generation Antenna Design

    Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs

    May 2014

    SPECIAL ISSUE Unmanned Vehicle & Robotics Technology

    Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV

    Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating

    UUV Developments for Defense and Comm

    The Evolution of Tactical Robots

    Next-Generation Antenna Design

    SPECIAL ISSUE Unmanned Vehicle & Robotics Technology

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    Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics Development

    Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating On Discrete Terrain

    UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications

    The Evolution of Tactical Robots

    Next-Generation Antenna Design

    Supplement to NASA Tech Briefs

    May 2014

    SPECIAL ISSUE Unmanned Vehicle & Robotics Technology

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  • 2 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014Free Info at

    Aerospace & Defense Technology

    ContentsFEATURES ________________________________________

    6 Unmanned Aerial Systems6 Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics


    12 Unmanned Ground Vehicles12 Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating on Discrete Terrain

    20 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles20 UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications

    24 Robotics24 The Evolution of Tactical Robots

    27 Command & Control Technology27 Next-Generation Antenna Design

    30 Tech Briefs30 Supervisory Control State Diagrams to Depict Autonomous

    Activity31 Aerodynamic Modeling of a Flapping Wing Unmanned Aerial


    34 Queuing Model for Supervisory Control of UnmannedAutonomous Vehicles

    36 Real-Time, High-Fidelity Simulation of Autonomous GroundVehicle Dynamics

    DEPARTMENTS ___________________________________

    4 Editorial39 Application Briefs42 Advertisers Index

    ON THE COVER ___________________________________

    A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerialvehicle (UAV) conducts a mission over hostile ter-rain. The future use of UAVs in civil airspace raises ahost of regulatory and safety issues that must beaddressed before UAVs can be adapted to commer-cial applications. To learn more, read the featurearticle on page 6.

    U.S. Air Force photo by Lt Col Leslie Pratt

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  • 4 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014


    Unmanned Vehicle and Robotics Technology

    Welcome to a very specialissue of Aerospace & DefenseTechnology.

    When our publisher asked meif there were any areas of the de-fense industry that warranted ad-ditional coverage, I didnt haveto think twice. Unmanned vehi-cles and robotics, I said. It seemslike you cant pick up a newspa-per or tablet computer todaywithout reading about a dronestrike somewhere or a robotbeing used to detect IEDs.

    Growing up as a child of the 50s and 60s, robots and un-manned vehicles were the stuff of science fiction and fantasy.Even in the 1970s, when I was in engineering school, robotswere little more than characters in Hollywood movies. In1973, the movie Westworld created a futuristic theme parkwhere, for $1,000 a day, adventurous tourists could interactwith lifelike robots in any of three themed worlds ancientRome; medieval Europe; or the Wild West. Pretty cooluntilsomething went wrong and the robots turned into homicidalmaniacs. It was a lot more fiction than science, particularly fora young man studying technology.

    Fast forward almost 40 years. According to statistics com-piled by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), ap-proximately 168,000 industrial robots were sold worldwide in2013. IFR also predicts that 28,000 robots, including un-manned aerial vehicles (UAVs), will be sold for defense appli-cations between 2013 and 2016. Perhaps the best indicationof the markets potential, however, is the fact that in Decem-ber 2013, Google purchased Boston Dynamics, a roboticscompany with strong ties to the Defense Advanced ResearchProjects Agency, a.k.a. DARPA.

    On the unmanned vehicles front, research by Frost & Sulli-van determined that in 2013 the US Department of Defensesunmanned aerial systems market generated revenues of $4.97billion. Barring significant budget cuts, they predict that thismarket could generate as much as $6.53 billion in 2018.

    Exciting? No doubt. Thats why weve put together this spe-cial issue. In the following pages youll get a good overview ofsome of the cutting-edge technology thats ensuring U.S. su-periority in unmanned vehicle and robotics technology.

    For example, late last year Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos madeheadlines by announcing plans to someday deliver parcelsusing a fleet of drones. And Amazon isnt the only companylooking to commercialize what has been, until now, mainlymilitary technology. Theres just one problem. Commercialdrones flying in civil aviation airspace would have to comply

    with all sorts of rules and regulations that the military doesnthave to deal with, not the least of which is safety certification.In Navigating the Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electron-ics Development, a team of experts from General AtomicsAeronautical Systems, Logicircuit, LDRA Certification Serv-ices, and FAA Consultants explains whats involved in certify-ing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for civil aviation.

    The military also utilizes a broad array of unmannedground vehicles (UGVs) for a multitude of missions from re-mote surveillance to countering improvised explosive devices(IEDs). Most of these vehicles must operate on uneven terrainlike sand and loose soil, which presents certain design chal-lenges. In Simulating Lightweight Vehicles Operating OnDiscrete Terrain, a team of authors from the University ofWisconsin-Madison and U.S. Army TARDEC explains some ofthe computer modeling techniques used to overcome thesechallenges.

    Another area of intense growth for both military and com-mercial applications is unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs).According to Jeff Smith, CEO of Bluefin Robotics, researchinto UUV technology actually began back in 1957 and hasgrown to the point where there are now 74 different compa-nies/institutions producing about 185 different UUVs. To seewhat else he has to say about this market, read UUV Devel-opment for Defense and Commercial Applications.

    Closely related in some ways to UGVs are tactical robots,which can range in size from small tracked/wheeled vehiclesweighing several hundred pounds down to handheld, throw-able devices that can serve as a soldiers eyes and ears in dan-gerous situations. LTC (Ret) Charlie Dean, who now works forQinetiQ North America, gives us a brief overview of wherethis market came from and where its going in his article TheEvolution of Tactical Robots.

    And last but not least, a key technology vital to all aspectsof unmanned vehicle and robotics operation is command andcontrol. As I learned from watching Westworld, the last thingthe world needs is out-of-control robots or drones. In NextGeneration Antenna Design, Kathleen Fasenfest, an electricalengineer with TE Aerospace & Marine, explains some of thenew materials and processes being used to improve antennadesign.

    So there you have it. Those feature articles, along with someinteresting application stories and exclusive tech briefs youwont find anywhere else, should give you a good feel forwhat constitutes state-of-the-art technology in unmanned ve-hicle and robotics design today. Enjoy!

    Bruce A. BennettEditor

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  • 6 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicles(UAV) deliver sophisticatedcapabilities with tremendouscost advantage over tradi-tional methods. While this technologyhas evolved from military missions, civiland commercial sectors are beginning torealize many of the same remote sensingbenefits. However, one of the main barri-ers to rapid full-scale commercial growthis the concern for safety. As a myriad ofcertification agencies scramble to keepup with the unique demands of this fast-growing industry, one thing is clear where applicable, pertinent certificationstandards for manned aircraft are start-ing to apply. For the complex electronicsthat provide the brains of these systems,this means a swift move towards compli-ance with DO-178C for software andDO-254 for hardware development.

    UAV Evolution into the CivilianDomain

    Not long ago, talk of UAV systemswas reserved for the intelligence com-munity. Today, the mainstream media isreporting on Amazons plans to usedrones for 30 minute deliveries. It isclear that UAV systems have progressedrapidly in the past two decades. Thesesophisticated machines have branchedout from their military roots to offer anendless array of commercial and civilpossibilities, from border surveillance tofire control, police work, aerial map-ping, and so on. An estimated $8 billionindustry by 2018, huge potential liesahead for these magnificent systems.

    However, several key challenges standin the way. First is the complex and un-

    certain certification landscape. Secondis the necessary shift in both mindsetand processes from the developers ofthese systems themselves.

    The Certification LandscapeThe UAV technology boom of the

    past two decades offered the militarytremendous benefit in both budgetand life savings. But in this world, ac-complishing the mission is alwaysthe primary agenda. Safety, while aconsideration, is a secondary objectiveas budget is available. Nonetheless,UAVs had to meet the pertinent mili-tary airworthiness guidance (e.g., MIL-HDBK 516B and MIL-STD-882E). How-ever, as missions began morphing intopossible civil applications, contractsstarted including requests for more ro-bust compliance to civil airworthinessstandards. Meanwhile, civil aviationagencies took notice of the UnmannedAerial Systems (UAS) phenomena aswell. What they noticed was that UAS(the term used by policy makers) in-clude not only the vehicle itself, butalso the control segment and data link two very important differences frommanned aircraft that complicate certi-fication considerations.

    A topic of discussion and concern foryears, UAS certification policy has onlyrecently gained significant momentum.At an international level, the ICAO (aspecial agency of the United Nationschartered with the safety of interna-tional aviation) published Circular 328covering unmanned systems. This doc-ument states a UAS should demonstrateequivalent levels of safety as manned

    aircraft, and thus, meet the pertinentfederal rules for flight and equipment.

    At the US national level, in 2012 Con-gress passed a bill that mandated theFederal Aviation Administration (FAA)create a plan for allowing UAS into com-mercial airspace. This past November,the FAA responded by issuing the Inte-gration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Sys-tems (UAS) in the National Airspace Sys-tem (NAS) Roadmap. It sets forth a listof actions required for the safe integra-tion of UAS into the NAS. In addition toreferencing the ICAOs statement, anddeclaring a harmonization strategy, theFAA also referenced the work of theRTCA (a non-profit industry organiza-tion that acts as a Federal Advisory Com-mittee to the US government). RTCASpecial Committee 203 (SC-203) hasproduced numerous documents address-ing unmanned aircraft. Among them isDO-320, which states that UAS will re-quire design and airworthiness certifica-tion to fly civil operations.

    The FAA roadmap is, in essence, ma-turing the acceptance of UAVs fromtheir current experimental standing(which allows them to fly limited mis-sions) to requiring standard airworthi-ness type certificates (TCs), which willenable broader use and full integrationinto the NAS. In determining what is re-quired, the FAA is leveraging existingpertinent policy and regulation, whilesimultaneously identifying uniqueneeds and concerns of UAS.

    From a safety perspective, if UAS mustconform to the same rules and levels ofsafety as manned aircraft, given their rel-ative size and weight, they would have

    Navigating Regulatory Compliance for UAV Electronics Development

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  • 8 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014Free Info at

    UAV Technology

    to comply with the Code of FederalRegulations Part 14, subpart 23 (14CFR 23). This regulation covers air-worthiness of commuter aircraft.From an equipment perspective, themain concerns are adherence to sub-parts 23.1301 (function and installa-tion) and 23.1309 (equipment, sys-tems and installation). The primaryguidance that addresses develop-ment of the complex electronic sys-tems in compliance to these federalrules includes RTCA/DO-178C(Software Considerations in Air-borne Systems and Equipment Certi-fication) and RTCA/DO-254 (De-sign Assurance Guidance forAirborne Electronic Hardware),along with several other aircraft, sys-tems and safety standards.

    To complicate things, it may notjust be the airborne systems thatrequire compliance. The UAS brain isdivided between the UAV itself Regulatory Compliance Concerns of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

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  • Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 9Free Info at

    UAV Technology

    (which requires onboard sense and avoid systems) and thecontrol segment with the data link between the two playinga crucial role. Not only do these new system aspects need de-velopment assurance considerations, they are also pushing thetechnology adoption envelope in terms of complexity of bothhardware and software (a challenging area for the policy mak-ers, even in manned systems today).

    An Industry Paradigm ShiftFor the UAS manufacturers of Medium Altitude Long En-

    durance (MALE) and High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE)aircraft, primary design and development grew out of theDepartment of Defenses rapidly developing mission capabil-ities. The applicable certification criteria or airworthiness re-quirements were derived from MIL-HDBK-516 which em-ployed a variety of standards, both civil and military. Forthese manufacturers, developing technology is a core capa-bility. Developing in a regulated and highly controlled man-ner, however, was limited to applying appropriate mannedstandards until the FAA developed UAS policy, rules and reg-ulations. With civil applications presenting themselves as aviable market opportunity, certification becomes a primarybusiness objective with structure and oversight by the FAAreplacing pure technological development and self-certifica-tion by the military.

    For more than 10 years, General Atomics Aeronautical Sys-tems, Inc. (GA-ASI) company leaders have envisioned the grow-ing opportunity of civil applications and understanding of civilcertification implications engaging in both process and outlookadjustments. Using a four phased approach, which includesawareness, training, implementation and enforcement, designteams now are in various stages of compliance with both DO-178C and DO-254. But understanding what compliance meanscan be complex, as both of these standards themselves havebeen evolving and changing. Many UAS stakeholders havebeen involved in industry technical groups such as RTCA SC-203 (disbanded) and the new SC-228 working group to addresstechnical and operational challenges to integrating UAVs intothe National Airspace System (NAS).

    UAV development is driving miniaturization of multi-function, multi-coreavionics assemblies.

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    UAV Technology

    Complying with DO-178C and DO-254The Code of Federal Regulations

    mandates that aircraft systems performtheir intended function under any fore-seeable operating condition. For the air-borne software and hardware to complywith this rule, DO-178C and DO-254,respectively, have been developed, in-voked, and are evolving as necessary.

    DO-178 has been governing airbornesoftware development for the better partof 30 years. As software complexity in-creases, so have both the requirementsand solutions. Newly expanded and re-vised DO-178C presents additional com-pliance challenges over its predecessorDO-178B. For example, DO-178B re-quired code coverage metrics be col-lected during requirements-based testing(which exercises the softwares intendedfunction) to ensure sufficient testing ofthe codes structure. DO-178C adds datacoupling and control coupling coverage,which are only now feasible due to testautomation and technology advancesnot commercially available in 1992when DO-178B was released.

    On the hardware side, DO-254 com-pliance has been a moving target sinceits inception. While the original docu-ment has not changed since its finaliza-tion in 2000, interpretation has evolvedsignificantly. Written to provide objec-tives for the development life-cycle ofall electronics from component to linereplaceable unit (LRU), in 2005, it wasinvoked but re-scoped to apply only tocomplex custom micro-coded compo-nents. In 2008, Order 8110.105 clari-fied numerous aspects related to thenew scoping and The Conducting Air-borne Electronic Hardware Reviews: Job Aidwas published to provide certificationauthorities guidelines for consistent in-terpretation during audits. In 2012,EASA published Certification Memo-randum SWCEH-001, which harmo-nized with the previous FAA docu-ments, but also stepped beyond them inseveral key areas.

    In addition to harmonization chal-lenges, technology advances in bothhardware and software are challengingthe guidance as well. The policy makersare truly scrambling to grasp and modifythe policy as quickly as technology isevolving. UAS developers will likely feel

    the brunt of this policy confusion as theyare pushing the technology adoption en-velope, but perhaps can also serve indriving acceptance of newer technolo-gies into the certification realm.

    Insight From a LeaderGA-ASI, as a leader in this transition,

    has gained valuable insight with thereapplication of military UAVs to civil-ian applications. Certification effortshave included applying relevantmanned aircraft standards, both mili-tary and civil, and leveraging experi-ence in technological areas such as datalinks and ground control stations, and,participating in technical industry or-ganizations to develop a path forwardwhile waiting for the FAA to providefinal rules and regulations.

    To fly a civil mission means creating acivil aircraft, which requires a type cer-tificate (to ensure safety and design as-surance, enable insurance, etc.). So in-ternally, organizations must ensureeveryone starts with a view of whatneeds to be accomplished - verifying thecertification basis and performance re-quirements. This starts with assuringthe system requirements are both mis-sion and airworthiness focused. Thenanalyzing existing developmentprocesses against the DO-178C/254 ob-jectives and take incremental steps to-wards the necessary organizational im-provements. Meanwhile, any openchallenges necessary to achieve thefinal outcome type certification would need to be addressed. Overcom-ing this challenge means opening newdoors of opportunity for this industry,and developers play a big role in mak-ing that happen. Policymakers too willplay a crucial role in supporting indus-try growth by firmly clarifying theneeded certification requirements. Theindustry is already moving ahead in an-ticipation.

    This article was written by MichelleLange, Logicircuit, Inc. (Alpharetta, GA);Scott Olson, General Atomics AeronauticalSystems, Inc. (Poway, CA); Bill St. Clair,LDRA Certification Services (LCS) (Phoenix,AZ); and Todd White, FAA Consultants(Lakewood Ranch, FL). For more informa-tion, visit

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  • 12 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    Engineers increasingly rely onsimulation to augment and, insome cases, replace costly andtime consuming experimentalwork. However, current simulation ca-pabilities are sometimes inadequate tocapture phenomena of interest.

    In tracked vehicle analysis, for exam-ple, the interaction of the track withgranular terrain has been difficult tocharacterize through simulation due tothe prohibitively long simulationtimes associated with many-body dy-namics problems. This is the genericname used in this case to characterizedynamic systems with a large numberof bodies encountered, for instance,when one adopts a discrete representa-tion of the terrain in vehicle dynamicsproblems.

    However, these many-body dynamicsproblems can now capitalize on recentadvances in the microprocessor indus-try that are a consequence of Moore'slaw, of doubling the number of transis-tors per unit area roughly every 18months. Specifically, until recently, ac-

    cess to massive computational poweron parallel supercomputers has beenthe privilege of a relatively small num-ber of research groups in a select num-ber of research facilities, thus limitingthe scope and impact of high perform-ance computing (HPC).

    This scenario is rapidly changing dueto a trend set by general-purpose com-puting on graphics processing unit(GPU) cards. Nvidia's CUDA (computeunified device architecture) library al-lows the use of streaming multiproces-sors available in high-end graphicscards. In this setup, a latest generationNvidia GPU Kepler card reached 1.5 Ter-aflops by the end of 2012 owing to a setof 1536 scalar processors working inparallel, each following a SIMD (singleinstruction multiple data) executionparadigm.

    Despite having only 1536 scalarprocessors, such a card is capable ofmanaging tens of thousands of parallelthreads at any given time. This over-committing of the GPU hardware re-sources is at the cornerstone of a com-puting paradigm that aggressivelyattempts to hide costly memory trans-actions with useful computation, astrategy that has led, in frictional con-tact dynamics simulation, to a oneorder of magnitude reduction in simula-tion time for many-body systems.

    Reseachers undertook the task of simulating a light autonomous vehicle negotiating a pile of rubble.

    To illustrate the versatility of the simulation capa-bility, the vehicle was assumed to be equipped witha drilling device used to penetrate the terrain.Shown is a cut-away image of the drilling tool.

    Simulating Lightweight VehiclesOperating on Discrete Terrain

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  • 14 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    UGV Technology

    The challenge of using parallel com-puting to reduce simulation timeand/or increase system size stems, forthe most part, from the task of design-ing and implementing many-body dy-namics specific parallel numericalmethods. Designing parallel algorithmssuitable for frictional contact many-body dynamics simulation remains anarea of active research.

    Some researchers have suggested thatthe most widely used commercial soft-ware package for multi-body dynamicssimulation, which draws on a so-called

    penalty or regularization approach, runsinto significant difficulties when han-dling simple problems involving hun-dreds of contact events, and thus caseswith thousands of contacts become in-tractable. Unlike these penalty or regu-larization approaches where the fric-tional interaction is represented by acollection of stiff springs combined withdamping elements that act at the inter-face of the two, the approach embracedby researchers at U.S. Army TARDEC andUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison drawson a different mathematical framework.

    Specifically, the parallel algorithmsrely on time-stepping procedures pro-ducing weak solutions of the differen-tial variational inequality (DVI) prob-lem that describes the time evolutionof rigid bodies with impact, contact,friction, and bilateral constraints.When compared to penalty methods,the DVI approach has a greater algo-rithmic complexity, but avoids thesmall time steps that plague the formerapproach.

    One of the challenging components ofthis method is the collision detectionstep required to determine the set of con-tacts active in the many-body system.These contacts, crucial in producing thefrictional contact forces at work in thesystem, are determined in parallel.

    The engineering application used todemonstrate this parallel simulation ca-pability was that of an autonomouslight tracked vehicle that would operateon granular terrain and negotiate an ob-stacle course. To further illustrate theversatility of the simulation capability,the vehicle was assumed to be equippedwith a drilling device used to penetratethe terrain. Both the vehicle dynamicsand the drilling process were analyzedwithin the same HPC-enabled simula-tion capability.

    The modeling stage relied on a novelformulation of the frictional contactproblem that required at each time stepof the numerical simulation the solu-tion of an optimization problem. Theproposed computational framework,when run on ubiquitous GPU cards, al-lowed the simulation of systems inwhich the terrain is represented bymore than 0.5 million bodies leading toproblems with more than one milliondegrees of freedom. The numerical solu-tion for the equations of motion wastailored to map on the underlying GPUarchitecture and was parallelized toleverage more than 1500 scalar proces-sors available on modern hardware ar-chitectures.

    Simulation Gets on Track The simulation of the unmanned ve-

    hicle captured the dynamics of a com-plex system comprised of many bilat-eral and unilateral constraints. Using acombination of joints and linear actua-

    Magnitude of forces in one revolute joint after the track has dropped onto the flat surface. Transientbehavior was observed when the torque was applied to the sprocket at 1s and the track shoe connected tothis joint came into contact with the sprocket at 5s.

    Magnitude of force experienced by five revolute joints as their associated track shoes go around thesprocket.

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    tors, the tracked vehicle model was cre-ated and then simulated navigatingover either flat rigid terrain or de-formable terrain made up of gravel-type granular material. The vehicle was

    modeled to represent a small, au-tonomous lightweight tracked vehiclethat could be sent to another planet orused to navigate dangerous terrain.

    There were two tracks, each with 61

    track shoes. Each track shoe was madeup of two cylinders and three rectan-gular plates and had a mass of 0.34 kg.Each shoe was connected to its neigh-bors using one pin joint on each side,allowing the tracks to rotate relative toeach other only along one axis.Within each track there were fiverollers, each with a mass of 15 kg, andone idler and one sprocket, both witha mass of 15 kg.

    The chassis was modeled as a rectan-gular box with a mass of 200 kg andmoments of inertia were computed forall parts using a CAD package. The pur-pose of the rollers is to keep the tracksseparated and support the weight of thevehicle as it moves forward. The idler isnecessary as it keeps the track ten-sioned. It is usually modeled with a lin-ear spring/actuator but for the purposesof demonstration it was fixed to the ve-hicle chassis using a revolute joint. Thesprocket is used to drive the vehicle and

    Magnitude of force experienced by one revolute joint on granular terrain. The tracked vehicle was simulat-ed as it moved over a bed of 84,000 granular particles.

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  • was also attached to the chassis using arevolute joint.

    Torque was applied to drive thetrack, with each track driven inde-pendently of the other. When thesprocket rotates, it comes into contactwith the cylinders on the track shoe

    and turns the track with a gear-likemotion.

    The track for the vehicle was createdby first generating a ring of connectedtrack shoes. This ring was dropped ontoa sprocket, five rollers, and an idler,which was connected to the chassis

    using a linear spring. The idler waspushed with 2000 N of force until thetrack was tensioned and the idler hadstopped moving. This pre-tensionedtrack was then saved to a data file andloaded for the simulation of the com-plete vehicle.

    Tracking Results In this simulation scenario, the

    tracked vehicle was dropped onto a flatsurface and a torque was applied to thesprocket to drive it forward; the forceson several revolute joints connectingthe track shoes were analyzed as theytraveled around the sprocket.

    Transient behavior was observedwhen the torque was applied to thesprocket at 1s and the track shoe con-nected to this joint came into contactwith the sprocket at 5s. The oscillatorybehavior of the joint forces could be at-tributed to several factors.

    First, the tension in the track was veryhigh; there was no spring/linear actua-tor attached to the idler, so high tensionforces could not be dampened. Second,the combination of a high pre-tension-ing force (2000 N) and lack of a linearactuator on the idler resulted in highrevolute joint forces.

    The forces in the joint were highestwhen the track shoe first came into con-tact with the sprocket. As the track shoemoved around the sprocket, the forcedecreased as subsequent track shoes andtheir revolute joints helped distributethe load. It should be noted that thegearing motion between the track shoesand the sprocket was not ideal as it wasnot very smooth. In a more realisticmodel, forces between track shoeswould be overlapping so that the move-ment of the tracks would be smootherand the forces experienced by the revo-lute joints would be smaller.

    The tracked vehicle was simulatedmoving over a bed of 84,000 granularparticles. The particles were modeledas large pieces of gravel with a radiusof .075m, and a density of 1900 kg/m.A 100 Nm torque was applied to bothsets of tracks to move the vehicle.Note that unlike the case where thevehicle moves on a flat section ofground, the forces experienced by therevolute joints are much noisier. Indi-

    18 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

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    vidual grains move under the tracks asthe vehicle moves causing large vibra-tions to travel through the shoes.These vibrations would be reducedwhen modeling a more compliant ter-rain material that could dissipate en-ergy on contact.

    Results and Future Work Researchers succeeded in expanding

    parallel simulation capabilities in multi-body dynamics. The many-body dynam-ics problem of interest was modeled as acone complementarity problem whoseparallel numerical solution scales lin-early with the number of bodies in thesystem. These developments have di-rectly resulted in the ability to simulatecomplex tracked vehicles operating ongranular terrain.

    The parallel simulation capabilitywas demonstrated in the context of anapplication that emphasized the inter-play between light-vehicle track/ter-rain dynamics, where the vehiclelength becomes comparable with thedimensions associated with the obsta-cles expected to be negotiated by thevehicle.

    The simulation capability was antici-pated to be useful in gauging vehiclemobility early in the design phase, aswell as in testing navigation/controlstrategies defined/learned on the fly bysmall autonomous vehicles as they nav-igate uncharted terrain profiles.

    In terms of future work, a conver-gence issue induced by the multi-scaleattribute of the vehicle-terrain interac-tion problem needs to be addressed. Ad-ditionally, technical effort will focus onextending the entire algorithm to runon a cluster of GPU-enabled machines,further increasing the size of tractableproblems. The modeling approach re-mains to be augmented with a dual dis-crete/continuum representation of theterrain to accommodate large scale sim-ulations for which an exclusively dis-crete terrain model would unnecessarilyburden the numerical solution.

    This article is based on SAE Internationaltechnical paper 2013-01-1191 by Dan Ne-grut, Daniel Melanz, and Hammad Mazhar,University of Wisconsin-Madison, andDavid Lamb, Paramsothy Jayakumar, andMichael Letherwood, U.S. Army TARDEC.

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  • 20 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    Autonomous Undersea Vehicles(AUVs), also commonly re-ferred to as Unmanned Under-sea Vehicles (UUVs), have ahistory dating back to 1957 with the Spe-cial Purpose Underwater Research Vehicle(SPURV) developed by the University ofWashington's Applied Physics Laboratory.Academia and special government pro-grams drove the early decades of researchbut advancements were slow. Throughoutthe 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, more explo-sive growth came for the Remotely Oper-ated Undersea Vehicle (ROV) marketwhich had two primary advantages: theywere operated via a tether that providedpower for the vehicle and man-in-the-loop control.

    In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ad-vancements were made under the Mas-sachusetts Institute of Technologys SeaGrant AUV Laboratory in the design oflower cost, autonomous vehicles thatleveraged available technologies in com-mercial computer processing coupledwith lower power ROV sensors. In 1997,Bluefin Robotics spun out of the MITAUV Laboratory to focus on commercialdevelopment of AUVs. Several compet-ing firms also were formed in this time-frame, giving the primary, commer-cially-spurred market between 15 and 20years of experience. Several of the largeUS defense contractors such as Boeing,Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grum-man predated this period for AUV devel-opment, but their focus was primarilydefense and the US Navys budgetsdropped steeply in the early 2000s forAUV development. The 2000s saw slow

    but steady growth across the marketswhich included US and InternationalDefense, Scientific, and Commercial.

    Since the 2010 timeframe, the markethas grown significantly as the US Navyreleased three large ($50M to $100M)multi-year programs for AUVs andoceanographic gliders; commercial oiland gas expanded to deeper fields offSouth America, Africa, and Asia; and en-vironmental monitoring requirementsgrew. Further growth is anticipated in thedefense markets as the US Navy shifts itsfocus back toward maintaining open sealanes from supporting two decades of aland war and as international navies lookto expand their maritime capabilities.Earlier this year, retired Marine CorpsGen. James Mattis, the former head of USCentral Command (CENTCOM), cred-ited a countermining exercise in 2012 inwhich 29 nations participated as a lead-ing reason for Iran to back away fromtheir threats of mining the Straits of Hor-muz. On the commercial and scientificfront, market growth is driven by in-creased utilization of ocean resources tosupport the worlds population growth asenergy, natural resources, and food needsincrease substantially. Approximately

    80% of the worlds population lives inclose proximity to the ocean and 90% ofits global trade traverses the seas.

    The growing demands are illustrated bythe many new US and international AUVproviders that have entered the market inaddition to numerous academic institu-tions in the past 5 years. At the time ofthis article, the Autonomous UnderseaVehicles Application Center (AUVAC) cat-alogs 185 different AUVs from 74 differ-ent companies or institutions.

    Environmental ChallengesThe undersea environment is extreme

    and has many parallels with space ex-ploration. Its an expensive environ-ment to operate in as support ship costscan be in the multiple tens or even hun-dreds of thousands of dollars per day.Vehicle systems must be highly reliableas maintaining them remotely can posechallenges for parts and labor and cancause mission downtime leading to ex-tended ship expenses. Temperature ex-tremes can range from hot, on deck pre-deployment in 120 degrees to belowzero at depth or in the arctic.

    Some of the environmental challengesare much more daunting than space.

    UUV Developments for Defense and Commercial Applications

    Class Diameter (inches)

    Displacement (lbs.)

    Endurance High Hotel Load (hours)

    Endurance Low Hotel Load (hours)

    Payload (3)


    3-9 < 100 < 10 10-20 < 0.25

    Lightweight 12.75 ~ 500 10-20 20-40 1-3 Heavyweight 21 < 3,000 20-50 40-80 4-6 Large > 36 ~ 20,000 100-300 >> 400 80-150

    Table 1. UUV classes defined by the US Navy Master Plan

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  • Lack of line of sight to satellites makesprecision navigation and high band-width communications to the vehiclesmuch more difficult, if not impossible.And the pressure extremes can be formi-dable when operating at depth. Theoceans cover 70% of the Earths surfacewith an average depth of over 12,000feet (3,600 m). An AUV depth rating to20,000 feet (6,000 m) allows it to operateon the majority of the ocean floor exceptfor the trenches, which extend to thedeepest place on the planet ChallengerDeep in the Mariana Trench, at nearly36,000 feet (11,000 m). The pressure at20,000 feet is over 9,000 pounds persquare inch (psi), and nearly 16,000 psiat Challenger Deep. Considering, forscale, that the average SUV weighs 4000lbs, this pressure is equivalent to multi-ple SUVs stacked on every square inch ofvehicle surface at depth.

    AUV Applications and ClassesThe driving applications for the vehi-

    cles vary greatly between the defenseand commercial/scientific markets butthe sensor needs and even vehicle sys-tems can often be flexible enough to ad-dress both markets. By example, a Navymay require a side scan sonar, or even asynthetic aperture sonar, to survey anoperational area to determine if an un-dersea minefield is present. A commer-cial survey provider for the oil and gasindustry would use an equivalent surveyvehicle to determine if a site were suit-able for a pipeline or a laydown area forsubsea processing. With the right sen-sors and behaviors, AUVs can address awide range of applications from survey,to inspection, to even intervention. Fig-ure 1 depicts typical vehicle uses forboth commercial and defense needs.

    In an effort to provide industry guid-ance and drive commonality of systemsand purpose, the US Navy published aseries of UUV Master Plans that focusedindustry on 4 vehicle classes based onsize and prioritized mission areas. Table1 provides the AUV classes from the USNavy Master Plan for typical torpedoshaped AUVs. Endurance, payload vol-ume, and vehicle complexity/capabilitycommonly increase with vehicle size.

    Most of the worlds AUVs, whether de-signed for commercial purposes or de-

    fense, can be categorized into these basicvehicle classes, but typical endurancesand payload sizes can vary from whatwas published in the UUV Master Plan.For example, the heavyweight KnifefishUUV under development by Bluefin forthe Littoral Combat Ships Mine Warfare

    Mission Package has a payload of over 30ft3. And the Naval Research LaboratorysReliant UUV (the precursor to Knifefish)recently completed a 109 hour missionfrom Boston to New York (310 miles).Straightforward concepts exist to extendthis demonstrated capability to ~600

    Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 21

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  • 22 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    UUV Technology

    hours (almost 2000 miles in range) witha heavyweight class AUV. As more largeAUVs enter service and become morecommon, these payload volumes andendurances will extend even further.

    The Navy prioritized missions to beaccomplished by AUVs shown in Table 2from the Master Plan. They also mappedhow these mission areas would be satis-fied by vehicle class. These missionswould likely be considered common forother nations developing AUVs for de-fense applications.

    Current DevelopmentsWith the growth of the AUV market in

    the past several years, there has been ahealthy mix of production and develop-ment efforts in both commercial and de-fense. One unique class of vehicle that hasemerged is a hybrid AUV/ROV that com-bines the traditional AUV capabilitieswith thin fiber optic tethers that allow for

    real-time data transfer and manual inter-vention similar to ROVs (Figure 2).

    In 2011, Bluefin Robotics wasawarded the production contract for theMk19 Hull UUV Localization System(HULS). This provided an AUV capabil-ity to the Navy for inspection of shiphulls for mines or contraband that re-moved the need to deploy dive teams toinspect ships. The coverage rates werebetter than what divers could do in tur-bid waters and the robot could ensurecomplete coverage of the ship hull. Thetether provided real-time access to thestreaming sonar imagery in the eventthe vehicle identified a threat so thatdivers could then respond. It also pro-vided for manual control of the vehicleto allow the support diver to more thor-oughly investigate a target remotely.Bluefin is currently working on addingmanipulation to this platform, leverag-ing the tether for remote operation.

    This concept has parallels in groundrobotics where explosive ordnance teamsutilize the robot for mine neutralization,thereby taking the technician out ofharms way. This class of vehicle hascommercial applications for ship hull in-spection and critical harbor infrastruc-ture. In addition, Bluefin has a signifi-cantly larger (1-ton) system in finaltesting for much deeper rated (4,000m)inspection and light intervention.

    The small AUV market is an area ofgrowing interest, particularly for defenseand scientific applications. For defense,these vehicles can provide low-cost coun-termeasure capabilities for torpedo de-fense and mine neutralization. Addition-ally, the small diameters (3 to 5 inchestypical) provide less drag, thereby reduc-ing the propulsion requirements for ei-ther fast-moving, or low-speed, greaterpersistence applications. With lowerpower processing advancements, thesesystems will be more and more capable asthe personal electronics markets advance.

    Bluefin has recently completed designupdates to both its man-portable andlightweight class vehicles, improvingthe operating depths, navigational accu-racies, and payload flexibility of thesesystems. Both the commercial and de-fense markets for these classes of vehi-cles are growing with numerous pro-grams being released.

    The heavyweight AUV space has seensignificant growth in the past severalyears, both in defense and commercialapplications. For defense, Bluefin is com-pleting initial development testing of

    Priority UUV Mission Area Man-Portable Lightweight Heavyweight Large

    1 Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Special Purpose Harbor Tactical Persistent

    2 Mine Countermeasures VSW/SW SCM / RI NeutralizersOPAREA



    3 Anti Submarine Warfare Hold-at-Risk

    4 Inspection / ID HLD / ATFP

    5 Oceanography Special Purpose Littoral Access Long Range

    6 Communication / Navigation Network Nodes VSW / SOF Mobile CN3

    7 Payload Delivery SOF, ASW, MCM, TCS

    8 Information Operations Network Attach Submarine Decoy

    9 Time Critical Strike (see PayloadDelivery)

    Figure 1. Similar AUV capabilities are required for Commercial (left) and defense (right) applications.

    Table 2. UUV Mission Areas defined by the US Navy Master Plan

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  • DARPAs Distributed Agile SubmarineHunting (DASH) program with a deeprated UUV with extended persistence.Additionally, Bluefin was awarded thevehicle design effort for the KnifefishUUV which will be entering sea testingthis summer. Commercially, Bluefin sup-ported global operations from commer-cial survey, to the hunt for AmeliaEarhart, to under-ice operations in thearctic. A recently delivered 4,500m ratedcommercial heavyweight AUV employs asynthetic aperture sonar with a 1000m

    swath. This class of AUVs will see increas-ing applications as more advanced en-ergy technologies are integrated to ex-tend their persistence further.

    On the large vehicle front, Bluefin issupporting its parent company Battelleand partner, the Columbia Group, inthe development of Proteus Large UUV(Figure 3). This vehicle is a dual modevehicle that can operate with divers or

    fully autonomously. Bluefin providesthe autonomy, navigation, missionplanning and subsea pressure tolerantbatteries to this vehicle which has over300 hours of in-water testing and oper-ation accumulated as of this printing.

    This article was written by Jeff Smith,CEO, Bluefin Robotics (Quincy, MA). Formore information, visit

    Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 23Free Info at

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    Figure 3. Proteus Large Dual Mode Undersea VehicleFigure 2. Hovering AUV

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  • 24 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014


    TheEvolutionof TacticalRobotsThe lessons of yesterday andtoday are driving tomorrowsrobotic programs.

    Arevolution in UnmannedGround Vehicles (UGVs) istaking place today that fo-cuses on formalizing the per-manent integration of ground robotsinto military organizations within theU.S. Department of Defense and othernations military forces as well. Similaractivities are likewise cementing the re-lationship of UGVs to first responder or-ganizations as ground robots continueto prove that they save lives.

    The future of ground robotics isbright. Tactical UGVs will increasinglyinfluence not only military and law en-forcement operations, but other indus-tries as well. While the most commonuses for UGVs today are in providing re-mote reconnaissance and defeating im-provised explosive devices (IEDs), ro-bots have supported combat operations

    for decades. In fact, the forefathers oftodays UGVs were used as assaultweapons in World War II.

    Early History of Tactical Robots The story of tactical robots began in

    1939 when a French inventor, AdolpheKgresse (1879 - 1943), invented a light-weight tracked vehicle for deliveringdemolitions. Following the German in-vasion of France in May 1940, and thesubsequent occupation of Paris, K-gresses prototype was discovered by theGermans, who employed the BorgwardCompany to develop what would be-come the Sd.Kfz.302 Goliath. Thiswas the beginning of remotely con-trolled tactical vehicles and robots asthey are known today.

    The Germans focused on remotely de-livering demolitions with their small

    (Sd.Kfz.302/303 Goliath), medium(Sd.Kfz.304 Springer) and heavy(Sd.Kfz.301 Borgward IV) remotelycontrolled explosive charge carriers, evencreating complete units based onmanned and unmanned vehicles team-ing together. To make use of captured Al-lied vehicles, the Germans at times addedremote control kits to vehicles such as theVickers Armstrong Universal Carrier, andloaded these with explosives.

    The British experimented with severaldozen small amphibian robots calledBeetles, but these swimming/crawlingrobots, also designed to deliver explo-sives, likely never saw combat. The Rus-sians employed radio controlled tele-tanks based on control kits added totheir standard T-18, T-26, T-38, BT-5 andBT-7 tanks. The battle of Kursk (Jul-Aug1943) saw both the Germans and theRussians using remotely controlled vehi-cles against one another. By the end ofthe war, perhaps as many as 10,000 re-motely controlled ground vehicles wereused by the Germans and Russians alone.

    Todays WarfighterFollowing World War II, UGVs saw

    sporadic use until 2001, when combatoperations in Afghanistan and then Iraqbegan necessitating the employment oflarge quantities of ground robots tohelp defeat the widespread use of IEDs.Military robots earned their battlestripes, establishing themselves as es-sential equipment for modern warfare.QinetiQ North Americas medium sizedTALON robot, for example, has been

    A TALON robot inspects a suspected improvised explosive device. Robots such as TALON allow warfightersto clear routes quickly without having to wait for Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams to do so.Advancements in LDTO technology are making it possible to control these systems even further removedfrom the battlefield, increasing Soldier standoff distance. (U.S. Army photo by SGT Giancarlo Casem.)

    The retractable arm of the TALON enables the safe removal ofexplosive ordnance such as improvised explosive devices. (Photo:

    Photographers Mate 1st Class Robert R. McRill, U.S. Navy)

    Cov ToC +


  • Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 25


    heavily used by U.S. and ISAF forces to destroy more than50,000 IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. These TALON robots,numbering close to 5,000 systems fielded to date, are widelyemployed by military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)teams and Combat Engineer route clearance teams to locateand defeat IEDs. TALONs are the most widely used counter-IED robots in the world, and are often equipped with cutting-edge optics, sensors and tools for locating and defeating IEDs.

    Small and large robots alike have also played critical roles inAfghanistan and Iraq. The smallest robots, lightweight andthrowable, enable a squad to see beyond its current span of ob-servation and into what was formerly dead space, enhancingsituational awareness and unit safety. Some small robots em-ploy modular arms and can be used to attack IEDs.

    Large robots are used to assist with route clearance missionsand even to autonomously carry supplies. These robots areoften equipped with advanced sensors to assist with eitherauton omous navigation or localization of IEDs and otherthreats before small units are placed in harms way.

    First responders in the U.S. and overseas are learning from thecombat lessons of employing UGVs to safeguard personnel indangerous situations. Civilian bomb squads in the U.S., for ex-ample, are required to have robots in their response kits for in-vestigation of possible threats. The first responders robots are

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  • 26 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014


    often the same types of UGVs that themilitary is using in combat, due to themachines proven track record in battle.Fire departments and SWAT teams arelikewise picking up on the utility ofUGVs and many departments today arealready employing ground robots, oftenwith sensors that were previously handdelivered.

    Smaller, Lighter and More VersatileAs the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

    progressed, the demand for small, light-weight counter-IED robots grew. The in-creasing frequency of IEDs interdictingdismounted patrols necessitated thatEOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), en-gineer and infantry squads often had tocarry robots on their backs. This was achallenge, if not an impossibility, withthe medium-sized robots purchased ear-lier in the war. With evolutions insmaller, more capable radios, motors,computers, batteries and electronics overthe past decade, rapid efforts were under-taken to develop and field rugged, light-weight, counter-IED robots. These easilytransported systems added versatilityand safety to small unit operations.

    First responders are also experiencinga growing need for lightweight robots,largely learned after the Boston Mar -athon bombing in April 2013. Whilemedium and large UGVs were heavilyused in Boston, Cambridge and Water-town during the response to the attack,wearable robots proved their uniquevalue as bomb squad members workedtheir way through congested streets to

    address discovered threats. These lessonsare influencing current police opera-tions as well as their planning for futurelaw enforcement missions. Recently,quick response teams of bomb techni-cians employed at Super Bowl XLVIIIwore Dragon Runner robots from Qine-tiQ North America on their backs.

    The Future of RoboticsAs UGVs continue to evolve, the rev-

    olution underway is taking the modernlessons learned from Afghanistan andIraq, where 8,000-10,000 robots havebeen used by coalition armies, and cre-ating enduring core programs to ad-dress both the current needs of theseforces and their future requirements.These core programs will equip unitswith UGVs in standardized sizes andcapabilities as doctrinally assignedequipment, not emergency equipment,and establish formalized training,maintenance, repair and replacementprocesses.

    Core programs will address the needsof military forces, and perhaps first re-sponders, for the better part of the nextdecade and longer. There will be everincreasing requirements for commoncomponents and software, modularityof payloads, commonality of controls,unmanning of supply vehicles and eventhe arming of UGVs, all the while min-

    imizing costs and simplifying mainte-nance and repair. Advanced sensorswill play an ever-increasing role in en-abling these future robots to far bettersense their surroundings, avoid colli-sions, detect threats, increase safety andadd speed to operations. Communica-tions systems will continue to evolveand soon all UGVs will be part of a com-mon network where key information isseamlessly pumped to adjacent units aswell as up and down the chain of com-mand. Unmanned aircraft and groundrobots will also be paired through ad-vanced communication protocols andsmall unit situational awareness will in-crease dramatically.

    The U.S. Army is exploring options toincrease the combat effectiveness ofsmaller units through robotics, while re-maining an agile, dominant force. As ro-botic systems further evolve to meet theneeds of this changing dynamic, so toowill the training and logistic needs of thewarfighters who command, employ orsustain these robot-enabled fighting for-mations.

    Though little is known about him inthe U.S., Adolphe Kgresse, who in-vented the first tactical robot, has anenduring impact today as UGVs con-tinue to provide ever increasing utilityat extended ranges, enhancing safetyand situational awareness while per-forming mission critical tasks.

    This article was written by By LTC (Ret)Charlie Dean, Director of Business Develop-ment, QinetiQ North America (Shrewsbury,NJ). For more information, visit

    The Dragon Runner 20 gives users the ability to lit-erally see around corners and into tight spaces,providing a flexible solution to ordnance disposal,reconnaissance, inspection and security in militaryand first responder applications.

    Small enough to fit inside a rucksack but toughenough to be thrown, the Dragon Runner 10 microunmanned ground vehicle is a lightweight, com-pact, multi-mission remote platform developed forsupporting small unit dismounted operations.

    Over 3,500 TALON robots have supported troopsin Iraq and Afghanistan, destroying more than50,000 IEDs and saving countless lives.

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  • Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 27

    Command & Control Technology

    Next-Generation Antenna DesignMaterials and Processes Enable New Possibilities for Unmanned Systems Command & Control

    Unmanned vehicles are find-ing increasing usage in mili-tary engagements, not onlyfor aerial applications but

    also for ground and underwater mis-sions. Modern antenna designs can in-crease unmanned vehicle fuel efficiencythrough reduced antenna size, in-creased antenna conformality, and re-duced antenna weight. For airborneUAVs, time on station is a critical mis-sion parameter directly influenced bypayload weight and aerodynamics. Forunmanned ground vehicles, increasedantenna conformality reduces the likeli-hood of accidental damage that occurswith externally protruding antennas.

    As designers look toward smaller andmore capable UAVs, SWaP-C (size,weight, power, and cost) requirementsnecessitate smaller, lighter, more power-efficient components and subsystemsbuilt using modern manufacturingmethods. With every subsystem as a can-didate for SWaP-C improvements, smallsavings on subsystems can add up to sig-nificant overall savings for a platform.

    Recent advances in materials and fab-rication technologies are now enablingimproved antenna designs with reducedsize, weight, aerodynamic drag, and cost.Key innovations influencing next-gener-ation antenna designs include compositematerials and novel selective metalliza-tion processes. These innovations com-bine to allow cost-effective realization ofthree-dimensional antennas that are me-chanically robust and can withstandharsh environmental conditions.

    Composites A typical thermoplastic composite be-

    gins with high-performance engineeredpolymer to which fillers are added toenhance characteristics. For unmannedvehicle applications, the polymer islikely to be a high-temperature mold-able thermoplastic, such as grades ofPPS, PEI, or PEEK. Composite materialsare strong and can be tailored to pro-vide impact resistance, tensile strength,flexural strength, and other desirable

    properties. However, the choice of com-posites is affected by operating tempera-ture and fluid resistance requirements,so a good understanding of the ex-pected temperature extremes and envi-ronment of the antenna is necessarywhen designing composite parts.

    Carbon fiber reinforced compositesare addressing the need for lightweight,cost-effective, mass-producible electri-cally conductive parts. Conductivecomposites typically offer a 30 to 40percent weight savings over aluminumparts. For antenna applications, use ofcarbon fiber composites range fromground planes to enclosures.

    Glass fiber composites are moldableand offer an economical solution forproducing radomes and antenna sub-strates. Typical radomes are formedusing E-glass reinforcement for econom-ical designs or quartz fiber reinforce-ment when low loss is critically impor-tant. Glass fiber composites offerthinner, lighter parts than non-fiber re-inforced designs. Glass fibers also in-

    crease the dielectric constant of mostcomposites, enabling antenna size re-duction when these composites are usedas substrate materials. Composite mate-rials can also be engineered to providedesigner dielectric constants throughthe addition of various filling materials,such as hollow glass microspheres, con-ductive particles, or foaming agents.

    For both carbon fiber and glass fibercomposites, fiber length is an importantdesign parameter. Longer fibers offermore strength but reduced ability tomanufacture small features. Moldablelong-fiber composites allow significantthickness reductions while maintainingequivalent strength of short fibers. Con-tinuous-fiber reinforcements are attrac-tive for further weight reduction on de-signs with large, smooth features.

    3D Selective Metallization The typical method of metallizing

    specific shapes on 3D surfaces is selec-tive plating. This process requires labor-intensive application of physical masks

    Figure 1. Conductive coatings can be flexibly and precisely applied to composite substrates. (Source: TEConnectivity)

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  • 28 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    Command & Control Technology

    to the surface of the part followed by amulti-step plating process. Because ofthe high labor content, selectively met-allized parts are usually relatively ex-pensive.

    Alternative processes include laser di-rect structuring (LDS) and two-shotmolded interconnect devices (MID).Both allow cost-effective 3D metalliza-tion, but both are constrained by therange of available substrate materials. Inaddition, injection molds are requiredfor both these processes, increasingnon-recurring expenses and lead times.

    To overcome these substrate limita-tions, TE Connectivity has developed aprocess for selectively metallizing 3Dsurfaces of arbitrary substrate materials.The process starts with the applicationof a sprayable conductive coating to thesurface of the part. Next, this coating iscured by radiative or thermal processes.Finally, the coating is ablated to the de-sired pattern using a computer numeri-cal control (CNC) laser. This process re-sults in 3D conformal shapes withmetallization resolutions as fine as 100microns and allows molded or ma-chined parts to be used as substrates.

    This 3D selective metallization processcan be applied to a wide range of sub-strates including plastics, chemicallyresistant composites, glass, ceramic, andmetals with acceptable adhesion, atemperature range from -65C to +200C,and corrosion resistance. The metalliza-tion is also durable and withstandsshocks, vibration, fluids, and salt sprayto the levels required for most aerospaceapplications. This process enables rapiddevelopment and manufacture of robust3D antennas for harsh environments.

    Application to AntennasComposites and 3D selective metal-

    lization technologies offer paths to re-ducing the size, weight, and cost of an-tennas for unmanned vehicleapplications. Composites offer a greatapproach for building moldable, massproducible, inexpensive antenna sub-strates. These substrates can have arbi-trary shapes and even include mechani-cal mounting provisions. Thistechnology offers the antenna engineerdesign flexibility not afforded by tradi-tional substrate materials.

    Selective metallization through con-ductive coatings can offer a good solu-tion for creating circuit traces on com-posite parts which would more typicallybe etched using standard circuit boardtechniques. The conductivity of someconductive coatings can approach theconductivity of bulk copper, addingonly minimal loss to the circuit whileenabling more cost-effective manufac-

    turing. However, this selective metal-lization process is particularly usefulwhen applied to the manufacture ofthree-dimensional circuit topologies.Three dimensional RF couplers and di-rect circuit connections to antennasnow become realizable through thistechnology.

    Within the antenna assemblies, alu-minum parts can account for a large

    Figure 2. Moldable modular antenna design using a glass-fiber reinforced composite substrate and conduc-tive coating. (Source: TE Connectivity)

    Figure 3. Modular antenna array, which exhibits wide use of composite materials and conductive coatingsin its construction. (Source: TE Connectivity)

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  • portion of the total assembly weight.Composite ground planes offer 30-40percent weight savings over traditionalaluminum parts, with high manufac-turability and often significant poten-tial cost savings. Metal inserts can beprovided for secure captivation of theantenna to the unmanned vehicle plat-form. Composite ground planes can beconductively coated if necessary to pro-vide improved electromagnetic interfer-ence (EMI) shielding, grounding, orlightning strike protection perform-ance. When the original aluminumparts require significant machiningtime to fabricate, composite groundplanes can be quite cost competitive.

    Traditional radome manufacturinginvolves hand layups of multiple mate-rial layers a tedious, slow, and costlyprocess that becomes difficult when in-tricate radome shapes are required. Re-cent advances in long glass fiber andcontinuous glass fiber composites offerapproaches for achieving thinner,lighter weight radomes using injectionmolding. The ability to mold strong,lightweight radomes represents a signif-icant change in the economics of an-tenna design and fabrication. When re-quired, 3D selective metallization canprovide lightning diversion or fre-quency selectivity features to theseradomes.

    In addition to the other advantagesmentioned, conductive coatings alsooffer the possibility of printing anten-nas directly on structural compositeparts of unmanned vehicles. As un-manned vehicles move toward incorpo-rating composite body panels, conduc-tive coatings offer an approach forfunctionalizing their surfaces. Anten-nas, RF traces, and DC wiring can nowbe directly printed onto components ofthe vehicles, rather than existing asstandalone parts. This approach en-ables unprecedented integration of an-tennas into unmanned vehicles.

    The Future of Antennas Has ArrivedConductively-coated composite tech-

    nology enables the cost-effective manu-facture of novel antennas with reducedsize, weight, and cost. Injection moldedcomposites offer an attractive approachfor mass producing antenna substrates

    and radomes. Selective metallizationwith conductive coatings allows the cre-ation of three-dimensional antennas,circuit traces, and ground plane struc-tures. These processes combine to offerelectrically and mechanically robust an-tennas and arrays in conformal, light-

    weight form factors suitable for next-generation unmanned platforms.

    This article was written by KathleenFasenfest, Senior Electrical Engineer, An-tenna Products, TE Aerospace Defense & Ma-rine (Berwyn, PA). For more information,visit

    Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 29Free Info at

    Command & Control Technology

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  • 30 Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014

    Tech Briefs

    Supervisory Control State Diagrams to DepictAutonomous ActivityThis method will enable a human operator to monitor, inspect, and manipulate activities of multipleUAVs, including situation assessment, decision-making, planning, and actions.

    Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

    The military seeks to enable agileand adaptive mission manage-ment and control for a team com-prised of unmanned aerial vehicles(UAVs), unattended ground sensors(UGS), dismounted warfighterswith mobile control stations, andan operator located in a centralcontrol station. With UAVs equipp -ed and authorized to re-plan andact without human input, the chal-lenge is developing methods for ahuman operator to sufficientlymonitor, inspect, and manipulatethe UAVs activities, which includegoal-directed task selection, situa-tion assessment, decision-making,planning, and actions.

    In addition to providing more de-tailed information concerning the in-formation processing and behavior ofan autonomous system, there is achallenge to present the informationin a manner that affords quick and ac-curate assessment of the multi-vehiclesystem. The goal of this work was todesign concepts that can support theuse of symbols and patterns in an at-tempt to support at-a-glance recogni-tion of complex activities.

    Hierarchical pattern-oriented state di-agram concepts are being developed torepresent the autonomous activities.Layered finite state machine diagramscombined with a control timeline andpayload inspection display, collectivelyreferred to as Layered Pattern Recogniz-able Interfaces for State Machines (L-PRISM), will be integrated with themulti-UAV control stations tactical situ-ation map and system status informa-tion to assist the operator to not only beaware of the vehicles locations andplanned routes, but also their missiongoals, associated tasks, and states toachieve the mission goals.

    The L-PRISM concept is composed ofthree display components: A) the StateDiagram, B) the Timeline, and C) the

    Payload Viewer (see figure). The StateDiagram uses the conventions of finitestate machine diagrams to representthe autonomous system activity to theoperator in real time. The State Dia-gram depicts the autonomy throughthe state nodes and transition arcs ofthe diagram. State nodes are display el-ements that represent autonomoustasks, showing what the vehicle isdoing. The transition arcs represent thespecific criteria for changing tasks,showing why the vehicle may move toa new task.

    Multiple vehicles can be displayed inone diagram to accommodate multi-UAV monitoring and control. The StateDiagram simultaneously shows the stateof each UAV in the mission through ve-hicle icons. Vehicle icons depict the ve-hicle type, identify the vehicle by itscall sign and unique color, and provide

    a time-on-task clock. The autonomoussystem can only make task and sub-taskchanges that follow the transition arcs.For tasks that have no transition arcs,task changes can only be made by oper-ators. In general, vehicle control withinL-PRISM has the flexibility to supportdifferent levels of automation, as longas there is adequate communicationwith the particular vehicle(s).

    L-PRISM uses a layered arrangementof nested state diagrams to provide rep-resentation of autonomous tasks atvarying levels of abstraction. These lev-els of abstraction are expected to en-hance understanding and managementof autonomous activities in part by dis-playing connections between actions,plans, and goals.

    The Timeline presents informationon significant mission events and pro-vides controls to review that informa-

    The L-PRISM and its three components: A) the State Diagram, B) the Timeline, and C) the Payload Viewer.

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  • Aerospace & Defense Technology, May 2014 31Free Info at

    Tech Briefs

    tion across the control station. An event is represented by acolored tile containing a letter or icon that depicts a vehicletask change or payload delivery. Colors match the vehiclecolor that is used throughout the control station, and iconsshow the type of payloads. Operators can proceed forward orbackward in time to investigate the tasks and actions of thevehicles and rationale behind those actions.

    The Payload Viewer displays a sortable list of mission-rele-vant data referred to as payloads. Typical payloads are imagesor videos from UAV sensors, but could be operator-generatedimages or videos as well. Additionally, all operators (i.e., dis-mounted warfighters with mobile control stations and the sta-tionary central control station) can create and send text mes-sages or voice note audio recordings as payloads.

    L-PRISM is an evolving supervisory control display conceptthat shows promise for providing many of the desired attrib-utes and features for displaying information on a highly au-tonomous multi-vehicle system.

    This work was done by Michael Patzek, George Bearden, and AllenRowe of the Air Force Research Laboratory; Clayton Rothwell of In-foSciTex Corporation; and Benjamin Ausdenmoore of Ball Aerospace.For more information, download the Technical Support Pack-age (free white paper) at underthe Information Technology category. AFRL-0227

    Aerodynamic Modeling of aFlapping Wing UnmannedAerial VehicleThis technique models phenomena specific toflapping wing flight, including unsteady effects,significant wing deformation, and extreme anglesof attack during flight.

    Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen ProvingGround, Maryland

    The phenomenon of flapping wing flight in nature hasbee