The Navy doesn’t know what to do with all its drone data

The Navy doesn’t know what to do with all its drone data
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A scout drone, a system to collect information–an uncrewed flying device with freedom of movement and even the possibility of being lost or shot down. The United States Navy is looking to integrate drones into its operations. This opens up new opportunities for risk in the way that drones capture, store and transfer data. The unique challenges of drone data management in the fleet were addressed by the Navy and defense industry at two October 26 events. The issue is how drones can collect data and how to transform that data into useful information. This information must be transferred to human commanders quickly.

“What are the most important 1s or 0s that it needs to travel with very resource-constrained devices, which move things from satellite to ship to ship, and all the rest? According to by Inside Defense , the Navy is really struggling with these issues. However, there are organizations that have [been] standing up to look at all of these problems.” Chris Cleary, principal cyber adviser to the Navy, stated that the Navy is having a hard time with this. Cleary spoke at an event hosted by Federal News Network

While the details of each vehicle are different, a typical flying drone equipped with cameras can capture video, video-in-infrared, location data, flight information, and distances to objects. The drone can do object analysis and send back raw data, analyzed data or both.

For nearly two decades, the US’s primary use of long-endurance drones for surveillance and attack was aerial surveillance above Iraq and Afghanistan. Collecting and analyzing data from Predator, Reaper and other drones became a labor intensive task. This meant dozens of analysts observing either in-country or recording video and transferring to secure facilities stateside.

The Navy, which operates in ships and squadrons at sea can be more distant from terrestrial internet connections. Satellite data links are an option, but they are susceptible to loss if there is a shooting war or other forms of orbital destruction. Direct connection between drones on ships and sailors at sea is the best option, but there are other obstacles for maritime drone use.

Data mines

Onboard processing is part of what is commercially known as edge commuting. It is one way to reduce the data load that must be transferred out. This can have its risks as the people who receive and act on the data, such as target identification, need to trust that it was processed correctly.

Another risk associated with drone use at sea is the possibility that data stored on the drone’s onboard computers could be discovered by hostile enemies if it is shot down. The Ukrainian victory in the battlefield capture of sensitive Russian military equipment was not only a victory on the battlefield, but it also makes Russia’s use of the equipment against US-supplied foes more effective as the equipment can easily be reverse-engineered and countermeasures can then be developed with the explicit knowledge.

Even without the threat of enemy capture, a downed aircraft still represents lost data. Although drones may communicate with ships’ human operators, the vast ocean surrounding the fleets that ships want surveillance could make it impossible for uncrewed vehicles to fly far enough to allow data transfer.

“How can I get the information I need from my little buddy if I don’t have links? Otherwise, the mission was futile and I have to do it again.” Steven Fino stated October 27 at Washington’s Association of Old Crows symposium, according to Inside Defense .. The Association of Old Crows is an association of ex-electronic warfare professionals. )

Foggy futures

In the past, commanders were constrained by a lack information in the field. This “fogof war ,”, which was once used to describe the clouds of gunpowder fire over battlefields, metaphorically explains the uncertainty of knowing what’s happening in war at any moment. Drones, which are data-gathering tools that increase the amount of information commanders have, present a new challenge. Commanders may find themselves overwhelmed with too much or incorrect information.

No technology is able to eliminate uncertainty from war. In the best cases, new tools can provide additional information that can be used in decision-making. It is not easy to convert data into actionable information. It is difficult to convert data into action when designing, building, or employing flying machines. This can help ensure that drones enhance understanding rather than overwhelm it.

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