Is a UAV fleet piloted by one mission impossible? Maybe not.

A new architecture that allows universal control of unmanned aerial vehicles through the use of one joystick and human controller may be underway at the Defense Department, according to Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room blog.


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“The objective is to be able to ‘shop’ for mission specific applications and services from a single ‘App Store,'” Rich Ernst, the Pentagon’s lead officer for what’s called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Control Segment (UCS), said in an e-mailed statement to Danger Room. “The methodology is akin to the commercial ‘smart-phone’ industry, wherein applications are down-loaded to suit individual user taste and productivity. The repository allows small software businesses to compete on a level playing field” with the major defense conglomerates.

If the architecture is possible – though some are skeptical because each UAV manufacturer has unique software and so far it hasn’t been done – it would be a huge step forward in UAV warfare, Ackerman said, noting that UAVs like the armed Predator and Global Hawk would be able to assist each other in their missions.

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