The role of unmanned systems continues to be defined and refined within the scope of military operations. Currently, unmanned systems are most often associated with operations in a single domain such as air, land, sea. However, the future of the military is progressing towards cross-domain operations.

This research uses a model-based systems engineering methodology for employing architecture in system analysis (MBSE MEASA) to design and analyze architectures for cross-domain collaborative unmanned systems conducting the fundamental tasks necessary to find a person in distress (PID).

The MBSE MEASA is a methodology that integrates system architecture and the system analysis domains and maintains traceability, both forwards and backwards, from the system requirements to the system performance results. The MBSE MEASA is a five-stage process that identifies the connection between the system’s architecture and the system’s analysis.

The system architecture domain composition consists of the following stages: Requirement Analysis (Stage One), Functional Architecture (Stage Two), and Physical Architecture (Stage Three).

The requirement analysis (Stage One) defined what conditions must be met in order to deem the system operational. The system requirements for conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) were determined by the Chief of Naval Operations instruction (OPNAV) 3500.38B. This instruction served as the stakeholder inputs and provided the conditions of how the system must operate in order to comply with international and civil laws pertaining to humanitarian assistance.

The requirements of the system defined the functions of the system, which led to the development of the functional architecture (Stage Two). The top-level functions of the cross-domain collaborative system was sense, navigate, communicate, and move and control. The unmanned vehicles must have the capability to navigate the area of operation autonomously in order to search the environment and locate the PID. The functional architectures identified all the system’s functions and how the function will operate together in order to meet the system’s requirements. Once the system’s functions were clearly stated, the physical components capable of executing such tasks were generated.

The physical architecture (Stage Three) identifies the physical elements of the system that will conduct the functions depicted in the functional architecture. The physical components of this system consisted of one unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The UGV and UAV were equipped with sensors capable of performing the functions listed in the functional architecture. These three stages make up the system architecture domain.

The system analysis domain consists of the following stages: Model Definition (Stage Four) and Model Analysis (Stage Five). Within the system analysis domain, a model for the system is constructed and then analyzed, resulting in the assessments of technical feasibility and operational effectiveness of the system being highlighted.

The model definition (Stage Four) was a validation exercise which consisted of the unmanned vehicles conducting a collaborative task of HA/DR. In this study, the original computer-based modeling of Stage Four was replaced with a validation exercise. The cross-domain vehicles worked together autonomously to identify, locate, and provide assistance to a PID. Both unmanned vehicles used their onboard sensors to navigate and locate the PID in a post- disaster environment. Stage Four provided the traceability of the system’s architecture to the system’s analysis.

After the validation exercise was executed, the system’s architecture and requirements were analyzed (Stage Five). The functions and physical components were analyzed to ensure the operational activities of the system were efficiently met. This qualitative analysis resulted in a refined functional and physical architecture being generated. It also produced specified operational requirements that enabled the system with better capabilities than before.

This work was done by Wyatt T. Middleton for the Naval Postgraduate School. NPS-0009


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Validation of Architecture Models for Coordination of Unmanned Air and Ground Vehicles via Experimentation

(reference NPS-0009) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the May, 2020 issue of Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine.

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