A Playbook Approach to Variable Autonomy Control: Application for Control of Multiple, Heterogeneous Unmanned Air Vehicles
Keywords: PVACS, VACS, unmanned aerial vehicles, overwatch
Abstract: As Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) become more common, several core challenges emerge including the need for single operators to control, or perhaps more accurately, to request services from, multiple UAVs without the degree of workload, specialized training and platform-specific control interfaces which characteristize of current UAV operation. A challenging problem involves the dismounted, small unit soldier who may need services from a range of vehicles while in challenging situations such as urban combat. We are developing an approach to UAV control that addresses these challenges. We use the metaphor of a sports team’s playbook to enable both quick and complex, variable-initiative control of a variety of UAVs—the user of our Playbook “calls a play” which need not (but may, if the user desires) specify what type or how many UAVs should be used to satisfy it. We describe the Playbook-enhanced Variable Autonomy Control System (PVACS), which combines SIFT’s Playbook architecture and Geneva Aerospace’s Variable Autonomy Control System (VACS). We illustrate the capabilities and operations of PVACS in an extended walkthrough example involving a request for Overwatch—continued surveillance—of an urban intersection and the development and execution of a plan to satisfy that request using multiple, heterogeneous UAVs.