VirtualAirBoss software coordinates UAV flights during exercise

By Patrick C. Miller | June 11, 2015

The VirtualAirBoss (VAB) software developed by SmartC2 Inc. was used this week in the Coastal Trident 2015 field exercise off the coast of southern California to coordinate flights of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) during simulated threats and emergencies.

“It was a good exercise and extremely successful,” said Janet Ahlgren, SmartC2 chief operating officer. “We coordinated a number of flights with UAVs flying from land, Coast Guard cutters and various ships.”

More than 90 local, state and federal emergency response agencies are collaborating with the Port of Hueneme to conduct the annual Coastal Trident Regional Maritime Security and Response Exercise during the first two weeks of June.

Smart C2, headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota, developed VAB as an easy-to- use, browser-based solution to help aviation service groups manage business operations.

“Coastal Trident is the perfect environment to evaluate this convergence of extensive expertise in emergency and threat response with the cutting-edge technology of VirtualAirBoss and NASA’s new UTM,” said Stuart Rudolph, SmartC2 president.

According to Ahlgren, VAB software was integrated with the NASA Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) system during the Center for Asymmetric Warfare (CAW) exercise in the Port of Hueneme. Over a three-day period, it was used in field exercises simulating drug interdictions and suspicious boat surveillance.

"Our role in this was to help manage the airspace, give them the airspace they needed to fly in and make sure that this unmanned traffic system works," Rudolph explained. "When it’s all said and done, they had the logs of what they did and where they did it. They could actually even upload the imagery so all parties concerned could see what was being captured."

Alan Jaeger, CAW director, and Parimal Kopardekar, manager of NASA’s Safe Autonomous System Operations Project, worked with SmartC2 to demonstrate the connectivity of VirtualAirBoss with UTM. The field exercise involved state, local and federal agencies responding to simulated regional threats and emergencies.

“Unmanned aircraft will play an increasing role in damage evaluation and crisis response, and coordinating drones in the airspace will be vital,” Rudolph said. “The feedback provided by the Coastal Trident users who are coordinating flights during this scenario will improve our technology moving forward.”

The full scale exercises involve a variety of air, land, and sea operations, as well as testing a number of technologies related to maritime operations. The exercise activities are designed to test threat and emergency response plans, processes and systems, in addition to command and control procedures.

The Coastal Trident Program was established in 2007 by the Port of Hueneme in collaboration with the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Asymmetric Warfare as a comprehensive training, experimentation and exercise program. It has evolved into a regional maritime security and response program for operational evaluation of technology systems. More than over 100 agencies and organizations participate.


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