Leonardo DRS Land Systems, a recognized leader in the integration of complex technologies into platforms for global military and commercial customers
A system of components that work together to provide users full-spectrum reconnaissance and precision targeting capabilities from within a combat vehicle
Engineering support facilitating integration and optimization of OpenDDS middleware technology into system components
On-vehicle devices that comprise a surveillance suite each have their own proprietary protocols for device control and status reporting. The surveillance suite includes embedded computers that run applications that communicate with each device. Those applications deliver information that's critical to battlefield situational awareness, enabling servicemen and women to make strategic decisions in the field.
This specific system sends a secure video stream from cameras mounted on a gimbal, which sits atop a mast that extends up to 10 meters from the vehicle, to a touchscreen interface inside the vehicle. The touchscreen not only delivers the video feed, soldiers can also use it to control camera direction, focus, and zoom to locate and identify objects of interest.
Building a communication system that operates flawlessly within such a complex vehicle network requires a highly reliable and interoperable middleware solution.
A Highly Reliable and Interoperable Middleware Solution
DRS Land Systems selected OpenDDS technology to build a communications system for a client's combat vehicles for several reasons:
- DRS Land Systems was expanding a codebase that used a DDS middleware to implement a common publish/subscribe messaging scheme; the OpenDDS project simplified their efforts due to its compatibility with the existing codebase.
- The company preferred to adopt an open source solution because it was more efficient to customize existing source code than to start from scratch.
- By using open source technology, DRS Land Systems was able to offer its client a cost-effective solution free of unnecessary licensing costs.
- DRS Land Systems appreciated the fact that Object Computing was a local company with a reputation for providing outstanding engineering support.
Object Computing created the OpenDDS project, an open source implementation of the Object Management Group Data Distribution Service (DDS®). The technology is managed and maintained by Object Computing and the OpenDDS Foundation.
Because our OpenDDS team members work with the technology daily and understand it inside and out, we were able to address questions and deliver solutions quickly, which helped the DRS Land Systems team overcome numerous challenges.
- A primary challenge was coordinating the interoperability of different DDS implementations. Our engineers addressed related issues promptly; for example, an OCI team member prevented delays by determining the cause of one issue and creating a new OpenDDS build to fix it within a week of the issue being uncovered.
- The OpenDDS project's support for code generation from Interface Definition Language (IDL) schema descriptions made it easier to define new information to be passed via publish/subscribe features with callbacks in Java.
- The OpenDDS project's reliable multicast capability made efficient use of the network.
- OpenDDS technology allowed the team to build what they needed without worrying about formatting messages for message exchange.
- Finally, our team's focus on performance ensured that the touchscreen responded to user input immediately. Because a lag in a vehicle's systems in the midst of a military engagement could be catastrophic, this user experience improvement provides soldiers much-needed confidence in the systems they rely upon in combat situations.
Complete system releases have been distributed to DRS Land Systems' client, and field demos have been impressive. Plus, the client benefits from the cost savings DRS Land Systems passed along due to the use of open source technology.
DRS Land Systems now uses OpenDDS technology as the communications backbone for several applications running on the vehicle network. The technology not only helps them deliver leading-edge solutions to clients worldwide, it has helped them accelerate their development processes by contributing to all of the following:
- Reusable designs, patterns, and components that can be used in multiple production programs; because they no longer have to start from scratch when building new surveillance suites, their engineering team now has to wait for partner development teams to catch up because they finish their code so fast.
- A library of reusable components that can be built and tested in isolation; the decoupled nature of publish/subscribe data transfer over DDS enables scalable and distributed development.
- A more agile development team
- Increased code coverage in unit tests
- Reduced latency
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