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EDF-2022-RA-UWW-UTS: Underwater manned-unmanned teaming and swarms

This topic addresses research for future capabilities addressing moving subsurface threats using manned-unmanned teaming and swarm technologies, possibly including surface and air platforms and components, particularly in confined and shallow waters (CSW). This System- of-Systems (SoS) should enable enhanced operational efficiency and performance. The actions in this topic should address state-of-the-art, and beyond, swarm control solutions. This includes analysis of centralised, distributed, and hybrid control models. Swarm control may employ control scheme with a global or local approach and their optimised combination. The control-scheme should adopt to mission type changes as the operation evolves from one phase to another. Guidance and control strategies for the swarm are also to be considered, where inductive and swarm internal cognitive-like self-control needs to be analysed.

The aim is to develop swarming technologies up to at least TRL 4 and validated in seawater. The expected result of the research activities performed with the support of this call is a better mission performance result than the one obtained by an individual UxV or platform alone. This should take into account data sources of opportunity. The main challenges or factors to be solved to enable this are the following:

– The SoS shares a common objective for all the individual components

– The SoS can be composed of systems, vehicles, and platforms of different nature and capacities

– The architecture and functions need to be derived and controlled by the task or mission aim that has been defined.

– The SoS architecture and protocols enables it to utilise resources outside the cooperative system.

The proposal for research on swarm aspects of unmanned systems and the collaboration policies that govern it, performing underwater missions, in CSW, shall address, among others, the following aspects:

(1)         Mission or task-based performance by the swarm and all its components. The definition, and management of the collaborative system, dependent on the architecture defined, will aim to optimize the use of every individual to better obtain the common objective. This will require planning and control with a focus on at least the following:

  1. Coordination and cooperation inside the system to share a defined space/environment and also the information obtained. Interoperability of the system within a defined architecture (centralized/decentralized).
  2. Adjust to changes in the environment and optimise accordingly, while maintaining mission objective.
  3. The cooperation of heterogeneous vehicles will involve the integration of a large amount information provided by different sensors.
  4. The information obtained about the environment or operation must be combined, analysed and disseminated in real time in order to provide feedback to the system through interoperability standards, which should be consistent with relevant NATO standards.
  5. Communication: A Shared link between vehicle and control station must be robust and reliable. Relevant protocols, such as JANUS underwater communications protocol must be taken into consideration.
  6. Providing the HMI-infrastructure to control the system, taking into account different levels of autonomy.
  7. The definition of the behaviour model of every individual inside the system and of different swarm collaborative models, e.g.: One mission shared by the platforms of the swarm; or swarm split in two or more squads with their own missions

(2)         Participation of vehicles with different characteristics: The use of different platforms will allow the use of different capacities taking into account several aspects such as:

  1. Level of autonomy and combinations of different levels
  2. Movement (kinetic) characteristics
  3. Types of platforms (UUV, USV, sonobuoys, gliders etc.)
  4. Enabling systems installed such as detect and avoid (DAA) systems (below and on the surface)
  5. Command, Control, and Communication Systems
  6. In-swarm localisation, communication and coordination
  7. Payloads, such as sensors and effectors

The proposed solution must give due consideration to the need to cooperate with other platforms to achieve a common goal (interoperability, information processing, security in operation, communication, detect and avoid, etc.). The resulting cooperation policies need to integrate all the existing with the new challenges arising from this kind of operation.

The proposal must give due consideration to techniques of cooperation between unmanned autonomous systems when acting as a swarm, namely task allocation/mission/route optimisation algorithms. Other, novel methods are also encouraged and invited to this topic.

Proposals that envisage unmanned and autonomous systems to work together as a squad – rather than as a swarm- (i. e each system/platform is performing a different task) are also welcome. Then the task allocation problem must be solved as well as the automatic re-tasking of the whole squad or group and each single unmanned asset. It should then also propose a solution for the automatic reconfiguration of the squad. The method of hierarchical task networks, or the method of intelligent software agents for implementing cooperation between systems/platforms can be used, but any other, alternative method can also be proposed.

An analysis and the elaboration of policies of cooperation between unmanned systems (swarming) should be described in detail in the proposal.

Appropriate level of human control must be respected also in proposals containing solutions with autonomous features.

The proposal should address SoS architecture, control, and guidance solutions of unmanned systems (swarming) and/or unmanned and manned systems in the underwater domain. This includes:

– Combinations of autonomous sub-swarms or squads of heterogeneous unmanned vehicles that cooperate and collaborate to complete different types of missions (for example anti-surface warfare ASuW, anti-submarine warfare ASW, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance ISR, MCM, Mine-laying and transport).

– An analysis of the general aspects of the operation of a cooperative system of unmanned vehicles and platforms, where the SoS may draw upon resources available to it from systems outside the cooperative system.

The proposals must include generating knowledge, integrating knowledge, and studies activities. The proposal may include design activities.

The proposals must substantiate synergies and complementarity, while avoiding duplication, with concepts and architectures developed in complementary ongoing European work streams and projects where relevant.

The following tasks must be performed as part of the required activities:

– Articulation, and if necessary, development, of relevant military scenarios, that will form the basis for development of solutions.

– Improvement and creation of knowledge by in-depth research in the form of studies that address the most critical technology gaps to enable capabilities for swarms to function in dynamic underwater environments while performing military tasks. Also research topics that address other specific shortfalls of manned-unmanned teaming in the context of swarms with autonomous features must be addressed.

– The feasibility of developed solutions based on the in-depth research must be explored through technological demonstrations, trials and/or simulations in relevant military scenarios. The demonstration must include seawater (underwater) tasks for relevant parts. A final demonstration will serve as an instrument to show the industrial state-of- art performance to the military community, visualize the results of the targeted research activities, present potential military value and identify technology shortfalls that need to be addressed in subsequent activities in nations and EU

Functional requirements

The solution should enable swarm configuration optimisation taking into account mission and task, resources, environment, military scenario and threat.

The swarm, sub-swarm, individual and node control solutions should enable obstacle detection and avoidance, reconfiguration in case of failure of individuals or nodes, behaviour in case of loss of communication.

The solution should facilitate swarm control and guidance for swarm sizes up to several hundreds of individuals in multiple sub-swarm configurations.

The solutions should enable mission performance with loss of individuals, communication and control.

The solution should enable functionality in GNSS degraded and cyber contested environment.

The solution should enable in-swarm localisation and coordination. The solution should be interoperable with existing standards when relevant, including NATO standards.

Collaborative systems composed by multi domain platforms (UUV, USV, sonobuoys, gliders, etc.) operating together may face several challenges. The solution should enable:

– Ensuring bidirectional communications link between the subsea units and the mother ship or ground control station.

– Ability to use own sensors (such as towed SSS/deployable sonars, etc.) to carry out the mission of subsea monitoring, while being able to cooperate with other platforms and systems

– Ability for USV to carry on board a set of UUVs to be rapidly deployed in a certain surveillance area at relevant distance from the ship.

Expected impact

It is expected that the outcome should:

– Strengthen the European defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) on technologies related to unmanned and autonomous swarming technologies that operate both above and below the water.

– Generate knowledge to fill capability gaps in use of underwater manned –unmanned teaming and swarms in support of naval operations

– Contribute to the interoperability and future capabilities of European forces in the area of swarm solutions for mission execution in the naval domain, including in particular the underwater domain.

CONSULTE AQUI A CALL COMPLETA

EDF-2022-RA-UWW-ODAC: Underwater observation, detection, acquisition and communications

Timely and robust detection and monitoring of moving underwater threats (such as submarines, swimmer delivery vehicles (SDV), combat divers, underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV)) in open sea and coastal waters is critical for maintaining sea control, for ensuring freedom to operate own forces, for A2AD operations, for harbour protection, for force protection, and for protection of critical national infrastructure.

Future capabilities need to be effective, mobile, adaptive, scalable, and flexible to counter threats from the underwater domain, leading to new technical and conceptual solutions to be developed. As traditional naval ships will become an increasingly scarce and expensive resource and will not be sufficient to provide the necessary geographical coverage and flexibility needed for the future, research is required on modular unmanned systems for underwater warfare with prerequisite principles of unmanned air, surface and underwater (UxV) standards.

Underwater communication, detection, and monitoring of moving targets are common denominators for traditional warfare areas such as Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), underwater surveillance, harbour protection, and seabed warfare. Mission specific sensor solutions and tactical approaches differ in these, despite having common denominators. Timely detection of moving underwater threats at sufficient range is identified as one of the biggest challenges. Providing technical solutions for underwater target detection, allowing to prepare appropriate reaction to a subsurface threat, will therefore impact the whole range of warfare areas mentioned above. The aim is to develop technological novelties at least up to TRL 5.

The proposal for research on underwater observation, detection, acquisition and communications is expected to make an evaluation of critical technologies for detection of underwater threats for protection of maritime infrastructures and coastal strategic areas and assets, and identify novel technologies for improved situational awareness. This assessment of individual technologies will in a first stage be integrated to demonstrate an improved capability in underwater surveillance in littoral waters. This does not exclude open sea as an environment of operational use for the capability.

The proposal must cover at least the following parts:

– The first part is a scientifically focused part of research topics that today represent critical shortfalls in the process chain from sensor to underwater situational awareness and challenges in coordinated operation of unmanned system-of-systems. A strong emphasis is on the scientific quality and relevance of these identified research topics. Technology areas and solutions for specific underwater missions, excluding MCM, that must at least be considered are: sensor systems for the detection of underwater threats at long ranges; processing methods for noise attenuation and automated target detection; technologies for target classification, positioning, tracking, and target identification; autonomy and autonomous adaptive operation of UxV; System-of- system architecture and interoperability standards; Command, control, communication and information systems in support of operations

– The second part is a comprehensive demonstration of the project results in a realistic scenario at sea, adapting them to existing UxVs, sensor and communication systems, infrastructure components, and data management systems14.

An overall system-of-systems (SoS) approach must be used that puts together experimental configurations of unmanned mobile sensor platforms, rapidly deployed distributed autonomous nodes, ad-hoc underwater and radio communication networks together with an overall combat management system (CMS) for establishing situational awareness of the underwater threat.

Different components of the system of systems are expected to bring increased flexibility through a modular toolbox, comprising a range of systems focused to be deployed as autonomous sensors or to be adaptable to existing or newly developed maritime platforms.

Appropriate level of human control must be respected also in proposals containing solutions with autonomous features.

The proposals must include study and design activities. The proposal may include generating knowledge and integrating knowledge activities.

The proposals must substantiate synergies and complementarity, while avoiding duplication, with concepts and architectures developed in complementary ongoing European work streams and projects where relevant.

The following tasks must be performed as part of the required activities:

– For studies, supported by experimentation: In-depth research that address the most critical technology gaps to enable capabilities for underwater detection, classification, tracking and surveillance of underwater moving targets, as well as to enable capable and reliable communication links within the SoS.

– For design, including demonstration: a final comprehensive SoS demonstration involving state-of-art unmanned and autonomous systems that may be configured to represent a complete process chain from detection-to-awareness, playing a realistic military scenario and using realistic moving targets in real environmental conditions. The demonstration must implement results from the scientific studies in such a way that the impact of each of the studies has a potential operational capability, will be clearly visible in the demonstration. In addition, sub-systems to the SoS should be demonstrated.

The tasks must address at least:

– Methods, technologies, systems and devices for the detection of underwater moving threats at long ranges, their classification, positioning and subsequent tracking. These have to consider covert detection solutions, such as multi-static and distributed systems. Also automated target detection has to be addressed. In addition, methods related to mitigation of environmental influence on detection have to be addressed. Autonomy and autonomous adaptive solutions to ameliorate the probability of detection, classification, positioning and tracking of underwater moving targets have also to be addressed.

– Methods and technologies for robust and resilient communication for an underwater system of systems with the aim to establish situational awareness of the underwater threats

A final demonstration will serve as an instrument to show to the military community the results of the targeted research activities, present potential military value and identify technology shortfalls that need to be addressed in subsequent activities in nations and in EU.

The SoS design must respect an open architecture approach and interoperability standards.

Additional tasks may address other specific shortfalls in unmanned and autonomous technologies and coordinated operation of SoS may be addressed. The following tasks may be performed as part of the eligible activities:

– Research on novel technologies for accurate target positioning and tracking. These may include solutions for active and passive arrays and towed arrays mounted on unmanned vehicles (UxV).

– Research on Command, control, communication and information systems in support of operations. For underwater communication: signal processing using novel processing techniques for robust, long range and adaptive communication, including adaptive networks. These can include novel techniques and standards for the implementation of next-generation underwater communication networks.

– Research on enablers for autonomous operations of UxVs in order to develop a consistent preliminary operational system of systems – such as; robust precision navigation, adaptive behaviour, long endurance (high efficiency energy sources), launch & recovery (e.g., UxV deployment platforms – such as military vessel specially designed to launch and recover naval UxV), underwater infrastructure networks

– Research on Human machine interface (HMI).

– Research on Internet of Underwater Things (IoUT, or UIoT) applications including all characteristic layers of IoUT (perception, network and application) and approach to solve the challenge of detection of underwater threats at long distance.

Functional requirements

The proposal should meet requirements for demonstrating a military scenario where detection, acquisition, and timely communication of underwater threats represent the core innovation part of the project.

The proposed solution should:

– Improve and speed up detection, tracking and classification of underwater moving threats especially in most demanding conditions and complex environments (coastal areas, reverberations, maritime traffic, sea state, environmental noise)

– Involve improved or new generation of sensors (active / passive sonar, magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD), hydrophones, active and passive sonobuoys, etc.).

– Have improved capabilities for underwater data connectivity to other equipment (tactical systems, multiple sensor-data fusion configurations) including in cyber- contested environments.

– Be interoperable with existing standards, where relevant, including NATO standards.

– Offer a modular and flexible design to ease the integration of new sensors and effectors (to ensure high scalability in terms of integration with existing or new sensors, effectors and subsystems)

Expected impact

It is expected that the outcome should:

– Strengthen the European defence technological and industrial base (EDTIB) on technologies related to unmanned systems, autonomy and the system-of-systems infrastructure needed to demonstrate situational awareness related to moving underwater threats.

– Identify specific research topics and generate knowledge to fill capability gaps in underwater threat assessment.

– Contribute to the interoperability and future capabilities of European forces in the area of underwater communication, detection, and monitoring of moving targets.

CONSULTE AQUI A CALL COMPLETA