Unmanned aircraft team shows aptitude with new app

redstone

By SOFIA BLEDSOE PEO

The Product Office for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Ground Maneuver was recognized with an award by Serious Games Showcase and Challenge during an award ceremony April 10 at Camber Corporation in Huntsville.

The team won for Best New Mobile App Game, became the People’s Choice Award winner, and placed top three in the government’s new mobile app at the annual Inter-service/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference last December.

Lt. Col. Scott Anderson, product manager, and Maj. Voyed Couey, assistant PM, accepted the awards from Camber and took the opportunity to publicly recognize the app developers for their ingenuity and hard work.

“This is the little effort that could,” Anderson said. “This is a great example of ingenuity, common sense, and a little budget, using existing technology and expertise in this room.”

GORRDEE is a device agnostic mobile app that the Army uses as an immersive trainer for the UAS Shadow platform. GORRDEE stands for Gain and Maintain Target Contact, Orient on the Objective, Report All Information Rapidly and Accurately, Retain Freedom to Maneuver, Develop the Situation, Ensure Maximum Reconnaissance Force Forward, and Ensure Continuous Reconnaissance.

Because it is a self-paced instruction that typically takes one hour to complete, along with a 30-minute game-based exercise, the GORRDEE app significantly enhances and develops the UAS operator’s critical decision making skills with its realistic, hi-fidelity and lifelike real world graphics and virtual environments.

The team won two out of three potential prizes and was selected from thousands of people who were at the I/ITSEC competition that day. Entries included games and applications from all over the world. There were international judges, 50 entrants and 17 finalists.

The idea for the app began with Couey, an OH-58 pilot, and his friend who is also an OH-58 aviator. Couey thought it would be a good idea to develop an app and lend their combined experiences as scout aviators to help teach UAS operators on how they conduct scout missions.

“It just makes sense because they (UAS operators) typically don’t understand the scout concept. That’s kind of how it all evolved and it has worked out well,” Couey said. Because GORRDEE is used in both manned and unmanned platforms, Couey thought it would be a perfect fit to begin a series of app training.

It took the team approximately six months to complete the developmental stage of the app. “What isn’t seen are the hours that Camber and their software developers devoted after our meetings to meet the intent of our idea,” Couey said. “A lot of challenges and changes occur in the development of this product. The people behind the scenes are the ones who were the glue that put this project together and made it work for the Army.”

While the Ground Maneuver (Shadow) team provided regulatory guidance that covered the training process such as the reconnaissance operation and the formal vision for the GORRDEE training app, the Camber team provided the technical expertise to take the product from concept to delivery.

“We’re looking forward to being able to implement GORRDEE in our UAS training across all the UAS platforms,” Anderson said. “We’re starting out with our Shadow UAS platform. With this app, we’ve dramatically decreased, or in some cases eliminated the limitations to a UAS operator’s training. It’s in his tablet or his phone, so it’s portable. It is self-paced.”

Because gaming and operating on smart phones and tablets are common practice to the new generation of UAS operators, Anderson said the app has made them get more excited about the training. “It makes our investment matter,” he added.

GORRDEE has already triggered interest within the aviation community. Some have contacted the Ground Maneuver Product Office to ask whether the app might work with their own system.

“This kind of stuff makes a difference in Soldiers’ lives,” Couey said, “and it all started right here, which is pretty cool.”

Additionally, because it is an app instead of software, Couey said the team did not encounter any major information assurance challenges like most new software would. Getting a Certificate of Networthiness was not difficult. “The challenge has been not making it somebody’s product,” he said. “It is strictly out of the FM 3.4.155 which is the Fundamentals of Reconnaissance for UAV operators. So we had to be very generic in that way and didn’t deviate from the FM. So that’s what made it difficult – we had to make it true to doctrine, not somebody’s idea.”

Although GORDEE is not yet incorporated in the UAS training, Fort Rucker which manages all the UAS training for the Army has already begun to implement this type of technology to change its teaching methods. “Now at flight school, you get a GORRDEE type lesson as well as flying the aircraft as a learning module,” Couey said.

There were several developers in the Camber team who were recognized, including the leads for the team: Adam Kingsborough (project manager), Jeremy Reddoch (production manager) and DC O’Steen (creative director).

The Serious Games Showcase and Challenge is a competition and a showcase event that was created to encourage video ame developers to create products that are useful for non-entertainment purposes. Making its first appearance at the I/ITSEC in 2006, the event accepts games from universities, business and government organizations as entries in competition for awards.