CapSci is invested in finding innovative solutions for characterizing link performance, such as for Command & Control (C2) links for Uncrewed Aviation Systems (UAS). Our team has developed the metaLink toolkit to facilitate agnostic testing of a UAS C2 link, passing data between the airborne and ground components of a UAS control system to assess the capability and suitability of the link. Validation of the C2 link performance is a critical step to ensuring safe Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for UAS. The toolkit includes ground bench tests of link components, airborne environment point-to-point tests, and networked evaluation onsite at UAS sites. The objective of the toolkit is to:
- Develop a common and repeatable set of criteria and tools for evaluating and characterizing link performance.
- Provide a report on compliance with DO-377A Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards (MASPS) and DO-362A Minimum Operational Performance Parameters (MOPS) and evaluation of performance for other metrics, such as bandwidth.
Current methods to characterize and validate link performance tend to be ad hoc and usually dependent on knowledge of the radio and autopilot protocols. This leads to duplication of effort, varying methods and measurements, and inefficient test exercises. Additionally, the ad hoc nature of the test approach and tools leads to inconsistent definition of the metrics being evaluated, and results that cannot effectively be compared between solutions.
A standardized, qualified, and technology agnostic validation approach will provide a repeatable process that can be utilized for link characterization, performance validation, and ongoing assessment of quality of service spanning all environments from the bench to the field to production systems. By standardizing and clearly defining the evaluation metrics and the results presentation, testing may be reliably and repeatably conducted on any link or system. A standardized validation toolkit will benefit OEM manufacturers with an independent means of characterizing performance of radios and autopilots against standards, UAS network operators to characterize C2 performance and ensure quality of service, and UAS owners with a longer-term ability to validate performance on a periodic basis.
metaLink is architected to evaluate both point-to-point radio links and networked radio solutions (e.g. LTE). To support these evaluations, the toolkit is utilized in three configurations: a Ground Bench test configuration, an Airborne Environment Point-to-Point test configuration, and an Airborne Environment Networked test configuration. The toolkit is a suite of tightly coupled hardware and custom data collection and analysis tools to provide consistent results for key metrics, such as transaction times and latency.