Resilient Autonomous Subsystems for Unmanned Air Systems (UAS)
Navy SBIR 2019.3 - Topic N193-141
NAVAIR - Ms. Donna Attick -
Opens: September 24, 2019 - Closes: October 23, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Resilient Autonomous Subsystems for Unmanned Air Systems (UAS)


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Information Systems

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: NAE Chief Technology Office

The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with section 3.5 of the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.

OBJECTIVE: Develop autonomous capabilities that allow teams of unmanned air systems (UAS) to make decisions independently that satisfy operator-provided mission objectives in complex, uncertain, denied environments.

DESCRIPTION: The U.S. Navy increasingly relies upon UAS to perform a variety of missions. Current UAS require continual operator supervision, relying on operators to devise a course of action in response to unexpected changes in the operating environment. The dependence upon operator-provided decisions during a mission reduces mission effectiveness by introducing a dependency on high quality service communications between the operator and UAS, demanding an undesirably high operator-to-vehicle ratio for swarming techniques; and additionally, introducing latencies between UAS sensor observations and UAS reactions. To improve UAS performance, NAVAIR is developing Research & Autonomy Innovation Development Environment & Repository (RAIDER), a re-usable software infrastructure utilizing the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) standard [Ref 2]. RAIDER is a reusable software infrastructure derived from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Collaborative Operations in Denied Environments (CODE) program that enables teams of UAS to make decisions autonomously in denied environments [Ref 1].

NAVAIR has a requirement to expand RAIDER to support diverse Navy-relevant missions. This SBIR topic seeks to enable RAIDER expansion by having the performer produce FACE compliant units of portability (UOPs) and behaviors that provide UAS with resilient autonomous behaviors and planning services. These products should focus on adding functionality to accomplish new Strike, anti-surface warfare (ASW), or anti-submarine warfare (ASuW) missions. The performer's UOPs should promote operational resilience, and must be capable of managing unexpected circumstances (including unexpected threats and unexpected adversary/non-combatant maneuvers) as well as losses of capability due to UAS damage, unexpected system/subsystem failures, and attrition. RAIDER will be available to the performing small businesses.

RAIDER UAS UOPs must be capable of satisfying operator-provided objectives and rules of engagement by generating tactical decisions without further operator involvement (e.g., search for and track all vessels in a given area, never approach within 10 miles of a vessel). UOPs must utilize a principled approach to assure that UAS decisions are appropriate, and made in real time. Operational resilience should be demonstrated by showing that the on-board planning with the UOPs is capable of:
- Providing effective UAS coordination with varying degrees of complexity. UOPs should be capable of coordinating teams of as few as two and as many as thirty UAS to respond to maneuvers and threats from as many as fifty adversaries.
- Operating in denied environments in which communications are limited and full connectivity between UAS may not exist for periods of an engagement.
- Guaranteeing that a priori operator-provided rules of engagement are not violated. Rules of engagement may include geospatial, temporal, and behavioral constraints.
- Supporting coordination between heterogeneous teams in which UAS may include different payloads, communications transceivers, and mobility characteristics.
Develop a UAS capability to quickly and accurately geo-locate and identify stationary emitters within a region by only using passive RF sensors with limited communications between the unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) within a UAS. A collaborative autonomous fusion UOP to generate a nearly common operational picture (NCOP) amongst a group of UAS is needed. The UOP should address constraints on communication between UAS, i.e., a reduced subset of information can be shared. Information includes own-ship telemetry and sensor measurements or tracks, or a combination of the two. Each UAS must be able to determine constraints on sharing information with other UAS in the distributed autonomous systems to support mission success. Such intelligent information sharing must consider the mission(s) objectives, time constraints, bandwidth constraints, mission constraints, and the information required to support the mission objectives.

Work produced in Phase II may become classified. Note: The prospective contractor(s) must be U.S. owned and operated with no foreign influence as defined by DoD 5220.22-M, National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, unless acceptable mitigating procedures can and have been implemented and approved by the Defense Security Service (DSS). The selected contractor and/or subcontractor must be able to acquire and maintain a secret level facility and Personnel Security Clearances, in order to perform on advanced phases of this project as set forth by DSS and NAVAIR in order to gain access to classified information pertaining to the national defense of the United States and its allies; this will be an inherent requirement. The selected company will be required to safeguard classified material IAW DoD 5220.22-M during the advanced phases of this contract.

PHASE I: Develop one or more autonomous UOPs that support a NAVAIR-relevant mission. Suitable missions may include, but are not limited to, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Fast Attack Craft defense. Develop and design the process that discusses the feasibility and effectiveness of addressing the passive RF geo-location UAS problem. This process should include the framework and the algorithms, tools, or UOPs used for the solution. Potential roadblocks may be encountered; identify them and approaches to overcome them. Demonstrate UOP resilience in simulation-based experiments.  The Phase I effort will include prototype plans to be developed under Phase II.

PHASE II: Integrate autonomous UOPs into RAIDER-enabled UAS and conduct live flight demonstrations showing proof of concept for UOP in a collaborative autonomous mission. Note: A RAIDER-enabled UAS will be provided by the government.

Develop a UAS UOP to quickly and accurately geo-locate and identify stationary and moving emitters within a region by only using passive RF sensors and with limited communications between the unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) should be demonstrated. To find and accurately geo-locate all of the emitters quickly, the UAVs must autonomously produce a coordinated optimal search and adaptive plan as emitter data is received real-time while avoiding being attrited if the enemy radars have developed a track on that asset. Gather metrics from flight demonstration to show the completeness, accuracy, and timeliness of identifying, tracking, and localizing emitters.

Demonstrate a collaborative autonomous fusion UOP designed to address constraints on communication between UAS. Validate that the intelligent information sharing must show consideration the mission(s) objectives, time constraints, bandwidth constraints, mission constraints, and the information required to support the mission objectives. Gather metrics from demonstration to show fusion, information sharing effectiveness, communications effectiveness, and ability to thrive and complete desired mission in denied communications and denied GPS environments. Demonstrate algorithms on operationally realistic simulated scenarios and modify/extend as necessary to address any challenges that arise during development and testing.

Work in Phase II may become classified. Please see note in Description section.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Conduct fleet demonstrations, and participate in discrete and extended fleet experiments to validate new capability. Commercial applications from a successfully developed technology would include forest fire management by the Dept. of the Interior. Equipped UAS and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) would be able to work together to fight forest fires in large swarms of firefighting water “tankers”.


1. Wierzbanowski, S. “Cooperative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE).” Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

2. “The Open Group FACETM Consortium.” Future Airborne Capability Environment.

3. Scheidt, DavidH. “Command and Control of Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles.” Handbook of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Springer, Dordrecht. 2015, pp. 1273-1298.

KEYWORDS: Autonomous Systems; Artificial Intelligence; Unmanned Air Systems; UAS; Sensor Fusion; Denied Environment; Communications


Jeffrey Sappington





Karen Frech





George Hwang





These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.3 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.3 BAA SBIR pre-release on August 23, 2019, which opens to receive proposals on September 24, 2019, and closes October 23, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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