LAS VEGAS–The Navy is working to develop standards for creating common interfaces to make unmanned systems interoperable to share video and command and control data over a wide array of networks and systems, according to the program executive office for unmanned aviation and weapons PEO (U&W).

Capt. Donald Zwick, who heads the common standards and interoperability initiative at PEO (U&W), said unmanned aerial vehicles (UASs) are overly stovepiped and the Pentagon is still trying to adequately identify standards for interoperability.

“We all understand standards are not sufficient for interoperability,” Zwick told a gathering at the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) symposium. The Navy is working to identify those standards at senior levels so they can be implemented across UAV programs by PEOs and the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), he said.

Converging on a common architecture would allow the service to “compare apples to apples” through the various UAVs at its disposal and help break down a long running trend in the Pentagon in the way it acquires products.

He noted civilian consumers would not buy computers without USB ports, ethernet or wireless capability or ones that would require modifying household electrical circuits to power a system, but the Pentagon has a tendency of “pretty much taking whatever we’re getting.”

“The consumer market has driven standardizaton …and the companies have said it’s in their best interest,” Zwick added. “The Department of Defense hasn’t done so well at that.”

Once the standards of interoperability for unmanned systems are outlined, the Pentagon will need to convey it to industry and consistently implement them in contracts, he said.

“For us to have interoperable systems moving forward, we recognize that industry needs to know what we want in terms of that interface,” Zwick said. “Industry knows for computers what that is, so we need to make sure for UASs (industry knows) what that is.”