The need for maritime operators to integrate ‘high end processing’ capabilities to their digital footprint is in huge demand, according to rugged computer and hardware manufacturer, Systel. That demand is directly related to vast amounts of data being generated by naval vessels and their subsystems, with customers focused on how they can add ‘small package’ solutions to their inventory. ‘The sheer throughput of data coming in, terabytes and potentially petabytes of data, at real-time speed is overwhelming,’ Aneesh Kothari, VP of marketing at Systel, told Shephard. ‘Having a high-performance CPU, processing capability and being able to stream that over a network at extremely high speeds: 10 gigabit Ethernet to 100 gigabit Ethernet, [is critical].’
Systel provide customised hardware solutions for naval, air and land operators that are designed to withstand shock vibrations, electromagnetic interference and work in submersible and extreme operational temperatures. Maritime customers include the USN, USCG and Department of Homeland Security, with a number of the company’s servers integrated on the ground control station, for the USN’s VTOL MQ-8C Fire Scout. Company servers are also operational with a host of other maritime platforms including the P-8A Poseidon, HC-130J Super Hercules, MEA King Air, and P-3 Orion.
The computers and hardware used by Systel typically support the Minotaur software suite used by the US DoD and controlled by the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, according to Kothari. ‘Minotaur effectively takes on lots of sensor data, whether it's EO/IR, camera, radar, lidar and our hardware acts as a single ingest point for all of that data,’ he explained. ‘Massive amounts of data need to be fused and adjusted so [the Minotaur, Systel combination] provides a common operating picture right across the board, for disparate elements.’
The company also consciously design long-life hardware components to suit lengthy military programmes – a means to operational continuity rather than disruption. Away from product development and maritime based activity however, Systel is also currently focused on demonstrating integration of manned unmanned teaming systems for robotic ground combat vehicles. The premise of Systel’s systems assessing a host of sensor-based data and acting as a common ingestion point remains the same, but in the case of the US Army’s next generation combat vehicle (NGCV) programme, the manufacturer has developed a hostile fire and detection and localisation computer known as Raven’s
Rock – previously exhibited at AUSA in March 2019. ‘As the vehicle is expected to be optionally manned, the US Army has a strong AI requirement,’ Kothari said. He revealed that Systel are currently working with a DoD ‘government entity’ as part of the NGCV effort, having already developed technologies needed to produce a hardware solution with electronics management capabilities to collect sensor data and have the system immediately interpret it, to then detect incoming fire.