İbrahim Baran ÇELİK / firstname.lastname@example.org
Software Engineer, Nurol Makina
The experience gained in recent conflicts, the changes seen in operational concepts and the latest technological advances have carried the conversion of land vehicles into unmanned platforms to the top of the agenda. As a company that identified such a need early on and that rapidly launched R&D activities in this area, Nurol Makina is today playing a pioneering role in this unmanned transformation of land vehicles. The company provided its first demonstration of its works in this field during the EFES 2016 Exercise, and is today producing all of its vehicle family ready for conversion into unmanned use.
Nurol Makina views the unmanning of land vehicles, which has become a necessity due to the rise of asymmetrical threats in recent years, through the framework of a well-established concept (See box entitled “The Concept Behind Nurol Makina’s R&D Works”). As a result of its studies based on this concept, Nurol Makina has developed the Nurol Remote-Controlled Vehicle System (UKAS). The technological infrastructure of Nurol UKAS allows the high speed transfer of tactically-important information to the operator, who controls the vehicle from a remote location, and enables the vehicle to rapidly and effectively carry out the operator’s commands.
Unmanned operations are defined as those that are “executed by an operator using a certain channel of communication to remotely control – to varying degrees – the system in question, in accordance with the nature of the operation ”.
One such example of this concept would be the remote control of unmanned land vehicles from a safe distance. Depending on the type of interaction involved, there are five different operational approaches used in unmanned land vehicles. Based on the technological infrastructure they rely upon, these approaches can be listed as follows:
- Remote Control: This type of operation involves the control of the vehicle or robot within the operator’s line of sight. The operator carries out the operation based on his/her own field of vision.
- Tele-Operation: The vehicle or robot is controlled outside the operator’s line of sight, with visual information from the field of operation, as well as basic information about the vehicle, being relayed continuously to the remote operator.
- Tele-Operation and Tele-Presence (Remote Interaction): While similar to tele-operation, this approach also has the operator maintain audio or visual communication with others in the field of operation. Audio communications with civilians in the field of operation can be given as an example of this.
- Tele-Operation with Autonomous Infrastructure: The system that is being controlled in the field of operation transmits information from the surroundings and environment to the operator by first making an initial grouping or categorisation. While the authority to take decisions is left to the operator, the system generates additional digital data to assist in the decision-making processes.
- Autonomous Operation: After being assigned with a particular task in the field of operation, the system carries out the operation under its own initiative.
The main advantages of a successful unmanned operation can be listed as follows:
- Minimising risk to the life of personnel
- Ability to take strategic decisions judiciously and under less stress
- Relaying of information on the surroundings and environment to the relevant units for evaluation
- Significant reduction in the time required to attain results during operations
One of the main objectives of the technological steps taken by Nurol Makina is the “Security of Military Units and Operational Effectiveness.” Developed with this objective in mind, Nurol UKAS has been designed for integration onto the entire Nurol Makina vehicle family. Nurol UKAS has brought a broad range of new operational capabilities to the armoured vehicles designed and produced by the company, ranging from remote anti-riot interventions to remote urban area operations.
Nurol UKAS, which can play a key role in the successful completion of high-risk operations, was designed by taking into consideration various criteria that are of utmost importance for operational survivability.
The Nurol UKAS system provides instant access to information about the vehicle, ensures effective interaction between the operator and the command-control system, can be adapted to all types of vehicles, and emphasises flexibility and similar features in its communication protocol. Nurol UKAS comprises two different subsystems:
- Command Control Unit
- Vehicle Control Unit
Command Control Unit
The Command Control Unit is the interface between the operator and the vehicle. Designed with the aim of ensuring operational effectiveness, the Command Control Unit coordinates the exchange of data in both directions.
These exchanges include information sent from the vehicle to the operator, real-time camera images and real-time information on vehicle status (current speed, orientation, pneumatic or hydraulic subsystem status, etc.). This information is sent from the Vehicle Control Unit, and is picked up visually by the operator after being processed.
Similarly, the tactical command information sent by the operator to the vehicle is processed by the Command Control interface and then relayed to the Vehicle Control Unit.
The Remote Control Subunit of UKAS can be used effectively under a broad range of challenging physical conditions, including vibration, high temperature and frequently changing angle of use. As part of the mechanical design process, the unit was tested in simulation environments replicating the above conditions while running software with high computation capabilities.
Areas of operation where vehicles are used in unmanned configuration also involve a high risk of accidents. This leads to the need to immediately take the vehicle back under the operator’s or driver’s control in case an unwanted situation emerges. In Nurol Makina’s solution, any problem in communication will prompt the vehicle to come to a gradual stop with minimal movement, and to switch to stand-by mode.
Vehicle Control Unit
The Vehicle Control Unit is the subunit of the Nurol UKAS that communicates with the vehicle, transmits vehicle control data and requests real-time situational information from the vehicle, which is then conveyed to the Command Control Unit. The Vehicle Control unit is able to communicate coherently with the different configurations of tactical vehicles developed by Nurol Makina for different operations, and ensures rapid data interaction.
Any armoured vehicle that lacks unmanned operation features can be readily converted to carry out unmanned operations, through the application of an Unmanned Vehicle Conversion Protocol that is specified differently for each type of vehicle.
In the design of the data communication infrastructure between the Command Control Unit and the Vehicle Control Unit, emphasis was laid on high speed, high flexibility and minimum transmission, which are vital for operational survivability.
Offering solutions to its users’ constantly evolving needs through leading tactical wheeled vehicle designs and mission equipment that are developed with its advanced engineering capabilities, Nurol Makina continues with great pride to put forth indigenous solutions for the defence sector.