A recent McHale Report online roundtable discussed the buzz on the floor of the AFCEA West show in San Diego, including DoD’s increased focus on embedded single board computers. The discussion participants were IXI Technology’s Michael Carter, Phoenix International’s Amos Deacon, and Z Microsystems’ Bob Kopas.
Regarding the DoD’s FY 2017 $1.6 billion increase budget request, Carter commented: “There will be continued focus to replace or upgrade aging systems through data conversion, emulation, virtualization, and the use of embedded, small form factor computing devices. Technology exists today that can translate data from one protocol to another, with the use of an electronic interface with software operating code. Technology also exists that can use the same operating code, without the electronic interface running on an embedded computer in a server – true virtualization. Embedded computing, especially products with multiple processors, interfaces and are small, light, and consume little power will dominate.”
Deacon added “Much of the embedded computing technology is going into [unmanned aerial systems] UAS platforms…They continue to invest in new programs such as the UCAV [Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle], which is starting to get more traction. Unmanned approaches for surveillance, for attack systems, and for defense systems will only increase.”
“We are seeing more applications of the Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (STUAS) program for amphibious ships and possibly even a destroyer variant coming,” Kopas noted. “This ties into the push toward distributed lethality fleet wide. More capability is being added to every ship so they can do more things. It’s encouraging that we’re looking at longer range, “fixed wing” UAVs (like STUAS) on all ships and not limiting ourselves to the Fire Scout anymore. Longer range UASs with more on station time only helps enhance the surface Navy’s capability.”
Carter pointed out that “SWaP [requirements] dominate unmanned systems and naval aviation applications – both are searching for new technology to increase operational functionality while reducing weight. Submarines and ships are less impacted by SWaP, but are faced with aging systems and obsolescence that is driving the use of more embedded computers.”