The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) issued a request for information (RFI) on Wednesday, proposing a set of industry days to get feedback for the in-development Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture (UMAA).

The UMAA aims to “enable autonomy commonality and reduce acquisition costs across both surface and undersea unmanned vehicles,” the RFI said. It also noted the Navy is seeking feedback on services and interfaces proposed as well as ideas and concepts that will expand on what is currently proposed.

Specifically, the RFI is inviting industry and government organizations to jointly develop the UMAA through periodic industry days to exchange information, educate, and provide opportunities for the government to receive feedback on the development of the architecture.

A rendering of the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle which will be deployed from the littoral combat ship to sweep mines. (Illustration: General Dynamics)

Last year the NAVSEA Program Executive Office (PEO) Unmanned and Small Combatants (USC), Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office (PMS-406) chartered a cross-organizational team to develop the UMAA “with the goal of standardizing autonomy interfaces across its growing portfolio of unmanned vehicles,” the RFI said.

Earlier this year the UMAA team published the UMAA Architecture Design Description (ADD), creating an initial framework for service and interface definition.

Further design guidance will be provided through interface control documents (ICDs) in the following areas: situational awareness, sensor and effector management, processing management, communications management, vehicle maneuver management, vehicle engineering management, vehicle computing management, and support operations.

During the industry days the draft ICDs will be presented for discussion, comment, and feedback before final government approval.

“This represents an excellent opportunity for both industry and the government to collaborate and ensure the products are well understood prior to the government invoking them contractually,” the Navy’s RFI said.

The first industry day is scheduled for March 4, 2019 and will provide an overview of the UMAA and provide a question and answer period. Subsequent industry days will occur on April 17 then in the third quarter of 2019, first quarter of 2020, third quarter of 2020, and fourth quarter of 2020.

The second industry day will cover vehicle maneuvering, vehicle components, and organic navigation sensors. Industry days will consist of about two hours of briefings and questions, then six hours of working forum meetings.

The DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program full-scale Sea Hunter demonstration vehicle. (Photo: DARPA)

The Navy said the working forum sessions “will be collaborative and no proprietary information should be provided or discussed,” and work derived from the meetings will belong to the government.

UMAA information will be made available via the Defense Intelligence Enterprise (DI2E) collaborative DoD website about two weeks before each industry day. The RFI noted ICDs will be made available online to interested parties including government, industry, and academia organizations regardless of participation in the industry days.

Last May, NAVSEA posted an RFI conducting market research to get industry feedback on the development of UMAA and assess industry’s ability to work within the UMAA. That posting elaborated on the purpose and utility of UMAA.

The older RFI said the goal of UMAA was to lay out a standard to support the development of common, modular, and scalable autonomy software for unmanned maritime vehicles that is independent of specific missions and platforms. It added the UMAA “contains design guidelines that enable development, evolution, and innovation of autonomy on-board an UMV [Unmanned Maritime Vehicle] without requiring re-design of the entire system.”

That RFI said UMAA seeks to provide standard interfaces at strategic levels within a UMV to allow the development of common core autonomy capabilities, allowing Navy programs to leverage common software capabilities across different vehicles. In turn, this would minimize development and maintenance of duplicate software capabilities.