Mapping technology company Esri has partnered with the U.S. Navy to develop a software system that will integrate meteorological data from unmanned vehicles to support tactical decision-making. With the new system, drone sensor data is uploaded to a command center where it can be parsed and analyzed rapidly, providing naval officers with a more comprehensive view into conditions in contested areas.
The remote data collected on Esri's new software platform includes water temperature, humidity, wind speed, and topography, all stored and analyzed in near real-time. To test its potential, the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command (NMOC) will use Esri's software in its upcoming “Unmanned System Operational Demonstration” exercise off the coast of Gulfport, Mississippi.
Esri says that before this innovation, oceanographic measurements for tactical operations like amphibious assaults had to be done by skilled personnel who were covertly deployed, a dangerous and costly endeavor. Additionally, the task of manually integrating data collected into charts took days to complete.
“The use of Esri’s platform represents a huge improvement in the operational impact of data collected by unmanned marine systems,” said Dawn Wright, Esri Chief Scientist. “Never before has ocean-based reconnaissance intelligence been both authoritative and available in near real-time.”
Data sources for the new software system could include traditional airborne drones like the Boeing ScanEagle; the Navy's growing fleet of Teledyne "Slocum" autonomous ocean gliders; unmanned surface craft like the "Sea Hunter" and the Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV); and future platforms like the GhostSwimmer submersible "shark" and DARPA's "Upward Falling Payload" forward-deployed drones.