Enterprise Mobile App Development : Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex

Drone App Development

Ayoka performs drone app development and systems integration for DoD contractors working in the defense industry. Ayoka’s CEO, a former Marine, has built a team at Ayoka Mobile that provides innovative services for connecting with remote devices and delivering over-the-air updates to software parameters via XML. This provides high levels of security with flexibility for remote software upgrades.

A drone, analogous to control systems, is defined as an unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers. When people heard the word drone, they would think about the future, robots and science-fiction movies, but in reality, modern-era (read electronic) drones have been used in military applications for close to 30 years. Drone types and functionalities range from simple reconnaissance, disaster relief, combat capability, human pilot training, to experimental space planes with goals to allow unmanned flights outside of the Earth’s atmosphere.

In the beginning, most of these drones were nothing more than expensive pieces of equipment doomed to failure, but the unmanned vehicle (UV) market has been thriving as technology continues to grow in ability of robotics. The goal of UV in defense remains the same, as the military attempts to take the men and women out of the frontlines of warfare, replacing them with technology in an attempt to save countless American lives while still allowing for the defense of our country. The military has several thousand UVs that constantly require updates to software, creating a multi-million dollar industry that has ballooned budgets due to the wide array of drones created by a variety of military contractors. These prevailing issues have led the Pentagon and Department of Defense to the idea of creating a service similar to the consumer-popularized App Store/Google Market Place for drone-related technologies.

Predator DroneThe Defense Department hopes to have a common language scripted specifically for ground control systems of drones that would eliminate the need for specialized training on each particular type of drone and prevent vendors and contractors from locking the military into a specific contract. The idea could, in theory, cut costs by giving independent contractors an opportunity to develop for multiple drone platforms and creating a common language for drone creation companies, which would reduce integration time for each drone. In 2009, the Pentagon funded a test project that developed 12 generic drone applications and installed them in various UV manufacturers’ drones. According to Rich Ernst, team leader for Interoperability at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the project was a success with the average integration time being 77 hours instead of the common weeks or months it took before to upgrade each of the drones.

The UAS Control Segment Architecture has the goal “to develop an architecture, based upon Service Oriented Architecture principles, that will be adopted by each of the Services as a common basis for acquiring, integrating, and extending the capabilities of the control systems for UAS.”

Ernst is one of the top supporters for a “marketplace” where independent vendors supply application support for the ground stations of drones. The drones used by the Air Force already follow a messaging standard called Unit Compliance Inspection (UCI) to relay information from machine to machine, but Ernst believes the broader UAS Control Segment (UCS), a framework “representing the software-intensive capabilities of US Army, Navy, and Air Force programs” standard would increase the ability of these drones without undoing the work already created by smaller contracting groups.

While a full-scale marketplace is probably still years away, many believe that the UCS has started a trend that will continue once vendors see the potential for dual-use UV technology while allowing the government to get new applications at a lower costs and allowing them to upgrade outdated technology.