Vetronics research for armored vehicles is aim of new General Dynamics facility

TAUNTON, Mass., 16 Aug. 2009. General Dynamics C4 Systems is opening a new innovation center in August in Taunton, Mass., to focus on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and vetronics for tactical wheeled vehicles.

By Courtney E. Howard

TAUNTON, Mass., 16 Aug. 2009. General Dynamics C4 Systems is opening an innovation center in August in Taunton, Mass., to focus on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and vetronics for tactical wheeled vehicles.

Engineers at the armored vehicle innovation center study everything from the ways in which a soldier interacts with tactical vehicle computing to how the computing is laid out inside the armored vehicles to what the soldier is wearing, and soldier movement, ingress, and egress. The company refers to the center as EDGE.

The capability-focused military ground vehicles electronics center "will provide engineering and integration expertise from industry and academia to solve specific challenges for battle command on-the-move," says a company representative. "The overarching goal is to rapidly insert technology throughout the life cycle of a program and by having facilities near our military and government users, we can better identify and respond to their requirements and gaps."

See related story, Warfighters call for innovative, responsive, and reliable vetronics in combat vehicles.

"The soldier is the central focus of everything we do," explains Mike Polaneczky, senior C4ISR systems architect at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz. Engineers in the new facility focus on human-centered designs. They commonly install a mock-up of an electronics design and have soldiers get in and out and test everything.

"It's an iterative process," Polaneczky says. "We make the human the central focus and involve the people who have to take this stuff to the fight. If something is hard to use or clutters the environment, it won't be that innovative because they won't be able to take advantage of all it has to offer."

The focus is on delivering systems that not only serve that soldier in an intelligent and efficient manner, but also perform various mission-specific functions efficiently from a size, weight, and power (SWaP) perspective.

"Over recent months, we have developed a C4ISR architecture," Polaneczky says. It is a reference architecture that relates and integrates discrete components for those systems in a combat vehicle that interact with one another for a particular kind of mission. It forms an underlying computing baseline upon which a set of common modular components or functions are built.

"If you look at recent Department of Defense (DOD) request for proposals (RFPs), modularity, commonality, intelligence, and interface are objective requirements they would like to see met," Polaneczky continues. It suggests that, when it comes to vetronics, DOD officials are interested in reducing SWaP and the power draw of the systems, in the consolidation of functions into a common computing environment, and a common architecture for all the computing within the vehicle itself, he adds. "The trend in the DOD is to start looking at the vehicle from a total systems perspective."

For more information about General Dynamics C4 Systems and its new Innovation Center, visit www.gdc4s.com.

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