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AUSA 2021: AeroVironment’s GCS Transformation

CRYSALIS Responds to Technology Pull

One very rapid technology thrust in the unmanned vehicle market is in ground control stations – with good reasons, given the proliferation of such systems and the more demanding requirements being placed upon them. One ground control solution that caught MON’s attention is AeroVironment’s new offering, CRYSALIS, designed to replace the legacy, common-use GCS employed with the company’s existing RAVEN, WASP and PUMA sUAS. CRYSALIS responds to the pull of technology and the sophistication of today’s UAS operator.

This is a software system so it can be hardware-agnostic,” explained Robert Sutton, Product Line Manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The new GCS is run on an app that can be operated across Android, Windows and Linux platforms. “This is a pretty big deal […] the biggest advantage with Android is it is lightweight.” The hardware under development is modular, allowing multiple use cases, from single operator up through a tactical operations centre. “The other critical part of the system is the radios and their antennas,” he added. As a baseline case, a 190g radio with antenna provides 5km range. With additional hardware incrementally added to the CRYSALIS family of radios, a notional maximum range of about 60km can be achieved. “What we have here is an ecosystem. What we have in the app is something that is simple, intuitive and you can do everything with one person. Before, the use case was: this is so complicated we need one person to do mission planning and another person would be flying. Now, the mission planner and UAV pilot are all-in-one. We’ve taken the mission planning and simplified it. All the information that was on a separate programme is now self-contained with the APP – and further enabled by geolocation information,” Sutton explained.

AeroVironment purposely leverages the experience of an increasingly younger generation of UAS operators. “This also ‘walks you through,’ so you’re only one or two clicks away from interjecting commands, changing modes and things of that nature. This is simple, intuitive and easy to follow.” Further, GCS commonality across AeroVironment UAS reduces required operator training when operators move to new units with different tables of allowance. “CRYSALIS will also be the GCS for our new UAV classes, beyond standard sUAS fixed-wing, but also to new UAV classes, vertical take-off and landing and others, and later on, we’re looking at ground vehicles and everything else in our portfolio.

CRYSALIS launched in July. “Our challenge is to migrate our customer base, US domestic and military, and more than 47 different countries around the planet, to the newer GCS. We’re trying to make this easy,” Sutton concluded.

Marty Kauchak reporting from Washington, DC for MON

CRYSALIS is designed for use in multiple settings, including tactical operation centres. (Photo: AeroVironment)  

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