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Commander is the ground based operations console for command and control with extensive access to vehicle and application data.  The Commander can be deployed for single operator with a single vehicle or a multi-operator and multi-vehicle style instantiation like a mission control center.  Commander is an extensible ground system with all the building blocks you need to quickly develop new applications and effectively operate a drone or UAS fleet.

Commander displays are web based, allowing multiple users simultaneous command and control access to the drone.  The displays themselves are written in HTML and Javascript, making it quick and easy for developers to create new displays in real time. 

The Pilot Flight Display, or PFD, is the primary display to provide a remote pilot situational awareness.  While the PFD normally displays real time video from the vehicle, the image belows shows Commander flying in an augmented reality mode with video generated from online map sources.  This mode is useful when flying a drone that does not have real time video or has insufficient throughput to transmit the video.

All other displays are used for engineering or operations purposes.  The images below show Commander displays showing various operational data.

The Commander back-end server has a RESTFUL interface, allowing users to read telemetry and send commands to the drone from their own software or scripts. 

Vehicle operators have access to everything they need to operate multiple vehicles safely.  Commander provides flight controls via a software interface, 4 axis joystick, and/or standard RC handheld controller.  It also comes with preconfigured flight displays and telemetry pages.  You can see the status of the over 4000 built in Airliner framework parameters and access to over 350 built in Airliner framework commands.  These range from commands that affect sensor polling rates and the format of downlinked telemetry, to flight controller mode changes and autonomy actions.

Vehicle data from the Airliner software bus is configured for download via default table driven telemetry definitions but configurable by command in flight.  Both the telemetry and commanding systems are priority based with mechanisms to ensure that no one data class can starve another.  Telemetry content can be customized to fit your bandwidth situation and operational needs.  Commands and telemetry are defined in a standardized XTCE format.  New applications can integrate their commanding and telemetry profile by adding XTCE definitions and onboard tables.  Once defined, their application interfaces are available to the Commander product.  This means creating a custom Commander display can be as easy as writing a simple HTML page, with additional robustness provided by browser side javascripts.  The Commander product hosts that page and the operator is now directly interacting with their onboard application via the Commander product.

Commander supports single operator or mission control center (multi-user, multi-vehicle) deployment options, complete with authentication and role based authorization.  This means that it’s scalable from a single service provider to an enterprise user managing a fleet of autonomous UASs. For interaction with multiple vehicles Commander is configured with multiple telemetry and commanding streams.  To create a control center Commander is installed on a central server with remote access via an internal web server.  New users only need a web browser to get connected and be a part of the control center.  Displays can be tailored for each console of the control center, with sets owned by both groups and individual users. User management and roles will be further integrated in Phase II.

Commander is foundation is based on a proven open source COTS product called YAMCS (Yet Another Mission Control System).  The heart of Commander is a vehicle data server that is based on YAMCS.  YAMCS is a suite of tools for spacecraft, payload and ground segment operations preparation, execution and spacecraft assembly, integration and test.  YAMCS is maintained by Space Applications Services who develops and operates control centres for spacecraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Unmanned Ground Vehicles as well as Unmanned Sea Vehicles. These control centres are used for Earth observation, human spaceflight, Urban Search and Rescue, Maritime Search and Rescue, as well as operating ROVs on off-shore rigs.  YAMCS is built for robust command, control and monitoring of multiple highly autonomous vehicles and is therefore a perfect choice for the future of Commander.

The operator facing component of Commander is rooted in basic IT technologies and therefore allows for straight-forward customization and extension by IT professionals.  Node.js®.  Node.js® is a JavaScript runtime built on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. Node.js uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model that makes it lightweight and efficient. Node.js' package ecosystem, npm, is the largest ecosystem of open source libraries in the world.  With the operator facing piece of Commander being anchored in this widely understood IT technology it will enable its quick adoption by UAS professionals who can easily find or obtain skills in the technology.  

Having YAMCS and Node.js® at the heart of Commander is also key to the Phase II cloud based application engine of the Hangar product.  Much of the Commander product internals can be reused by the cloud based application engine for interaction between the cloud applications and the flying vehicle.

The ground based application engine of Commander allows for harnessing the computing power of the ground station without sacrificing access to vehicle data.  Latency, rather than data access, becomes the driving factor for decisions about where to deploy your user application.  Ground based applications can interact with vehicle or cloud based services allowing for optimization of computing power, latency, storage, and availability.  Ground applications are written in Python (Pyliner) or Javascript and are portable to the vehicle or cloud for autonomous operations.  For

The infrastructure of Commander was largely completed in Phase I.  Phase II will allow the opportunity to demonstrate the scalability by creating a full mission control center with dedicated consoles for specialties.  Phase II will produce three unique flying platforms.  We will integrate control and monitoring of all three flying vehicles simultaneously into a mission control center deployment where dedicated consoles are used by vehicle operators and other consoles allow for focusing on the details of single discipline across all the vehicles.  The initial list of disciplines includes pilots, observers, engineers, safety officials, and imagery specialists.  We will also demonstrate how a single operator can operate multiple vehicles.  All this will be done with HTML and Javascript on top of the Phase I architecture.  Commander will be certified in Phase II using the Checkride processes for ground systems.

The ground based application engine is the main upgrade to Commander in Phase II.  This is an evolution of the ground based test engine from Phase I.  This engine will allow application developers to write Javascript and Python applications that interact with the vehicle and Commander displays.  The ground based API will be certified with a rich set of capabilities for control and monitoring of one or many vehicles simultaneously as well as interacting with the cloud based services.  This API will include the following capabilities:

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