Novel crewstation system design for future military vehicles

  • Ryan Annis

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Military vehicles have evolved from isolated mechanical systems into complex electronic platforms. More recently the electronic subsystems have become integrated into vehicle electronic (vetronics) architectures to provide a range of benefits. Furthermore, vehicle capability demands have grown, leading to an increase in integrated vehicle subsystems to meet these demands. These subsystems often require interaction with a human operator to function, thus crewstation system design is vitally important to exploit the vehicle capability effectively.Concurrent with technological and capability evolution has been the wilful adoption of open standards and the development of generic platform architectures in the design approach; together these advancements can help achieve unparalleled system modularity and platform reconfigurability in the modern military vehicle. Additionally, the emergence of X-by-Wire technology now presents the ability to decouple operators from traditional vehicle crewstation environments, providing further motivation to achieve reconfigurable design characteristics to support potential decoupled common crewstations. As a result of these changes, the crewstation system requirements have altered markedly with respect to a rising demand on human capability to manage increased information flow, and on control and feedback systems to enable diverse interaction modalities; a failure to meet either of these requirements strongly affects the viability of the entire platform. Future planned developments in areas of inter-platform data communication and unmanned vehicle control will amplify these constraints further.The traditional approach to vehicle crewstation design is not well equipped to meet the challenges described and lacks proper consideration of modern integrated vetronics architectures, the demands of platform reconfigurability, human limitations and the proliferation of decoupled control designs.This thesis proposes a method that further explores and understands the shortcomings identified, applying knowledge generated to help improve future crewstation design. First, the future crewstation operational environment will be established in detail, which will support the development of a novel design concept. This concept consists of an interaction model to guide effective, generic requirements extraction. It also includes an interface architecture that offers advances over existing architectures to enable a self-managed crewstation system, targeting the overarching problems identified. A modular software architecture based on this concept will be created within a rapid prototyping environment, which will enable the construction of functional demonstrator systems. In the absence of future vehicle platforms to compare with, case studies describing the demonstrator systems will aim to prove the design concept instead. Performance implications associated with self-managing concept technical changes will be analysed.Thus, the main contributions of this thesis are as follows:• First contribution: the development of a modern vetronics standard compliant Human Machine Interaction interface, introducing new interaction requirements driven by a novel Vetronics Integrity Monitoring and Management subsystem. The challenges discovered associated with the design & operation of this and other novel concept interfaces will contribute to knowledge of future interaction challenges and demands placed upon operators, thus aiding understanding of the domain and facilitating an extraction of requirements for an improved interaction model and wider interface architecture better suited to future vehicle crewstation designs. This work will also serve to highlight inadequacy in existing guidelines and help evolve them.• Second contribution: the creation of an informed interaction model and interface architecture concept, supported by a taxonomy of abstracted interaction requirements. The adoption of autonomic self-management concepts and interface data abstraction techniques from other fields into this architecture concept are presented as key improvements, representing an advantage over existing approaches. The improvements facilitate interface multi-modality to drive novel interface use and effectiveness, which provides the basis for a novel self-managed crewstation system design to combat the challenges discovered, working towards achieving a plug-and-fight interoperable crewstation concept.• Third contribution: a software architecture and development of reusable core software nodes to realise a generic self-managed crewstation system design in a rapid-prototyping testbed environment. These nodes provide a foundation for future study, facilitating qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the design. An existing network analysis tool will be repurposed to enable an evaluation of system performance cost and any trade-offs associated with the self-managed crewstation design differences, such as the addition of autonomic components and interface data abstraction approach.• Fourth contribution: case studies detailing the development and testing of two representative vehicle crewstation testbed environments, created by extending the core software nodes through tailoring for domain specific military and consumer automotive application. These case studies provide early, partial verification and validation of the novel self-managed crewstation design in the absence of a comparative future vehicle platform. The application of the design in these scenarios will accelerate platform development & offer novel capability to investigators.
    The key proposition of this thesis can be summarised as an approach to designing a managed vetronics crewstation system, one that overcomes the challenges elicited and complements the architectural design principles of modern and future military vehicles.
    Date of AwardSept 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorElias Stipidis (Supervisor)

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