The Proxy Autonomous Control Suite (PACS) is a customizable hardware and software system that converts standard manned vehicles into unmanned, autonomous vehicles or Optional Piloted Vehicles (OPVs). The PACS allows for the transition between manned and unmanned operation while in flight with the press of a button.
The PACS is comprised of several subassemblies primarily developed using Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) components. These subassemblies include the following:
- Power Distribution Unit (PDU): a redundant power control subassembly providing remote switching and dual 10A 28VDC buses. The PDU also provides power to the sensor payload.
- Autopilot Controller: an autopilot subsystem for control of flight. The PACS features a redundant autopilot subsystem for failover and safety.
- Servos: provides control of flight surfaces allowing for OPV operation.
- Virtual Air Controller (VAC): cooperative flight software running on a ruggedized computer. The VAC serves as the conduit through which commands are sent to and executed by the platform.
The software includes electronic engine control and monitoring. Faults are automatically addressed or corrected using a rule-based fault analysis tree structure. The Ground Control Station (GCS) Operator is alerted of all faults over the communication link allowing the GCS Operator to intervene if necessary. This communication link provides the means to share information between the GCS and the platform and between cooperating platforms.
- Redundant Network: a redundant local area network that provides failover control.