The heart of the system is the Virtual Air Controller (VAC), a cooperative software package that runs on a ruggedized computer. The VAC software performs the tasks required for complex tactical control, taking the place of a pilot in the aircraft. Commands are sent to and executed by the platform.
A Graphics Mission Editor planning tool builds a mission which is loaded into the VAC residing in either the unmanned system or on the ground. The VAC executes this operator-defined mission plan using the Virtual Pilot Software but allows real time modifications as the tactical situation dictates.
Communication between vehicles and the ground occurs via the PROTEUS® software using a mesh network environment. This allows individual platforms to share messages with each other. Each vehicle on the network knows every other vehicle’s location, pertinent sensor information, and full system status.
Prime functions of the VAC include autonomous control, collaboration with other vehicles, real-time navigation planning, networking with the commander on the ground and other vehicles, automatic terrain and collision avoidance, and fault mitigation.
The VAC software allows one operator to control multiple unmanned platforms in an Internet-protocol-based open architecture that can easily be adapted to a wide range of communication and network systems.