Larry pointed out some good info to me about the UAV Common Operating System on the DARPA J-UCAS website.
There is a COS FAQ (which unfortunately seems to be more focused on answering Boeing & Northrop's questions about protecting intellectual property than explaining what COS is!) and a Common Systems & Technology presentation which includes a very interesting section on the COS.
Some items of note from the 15.2MB PPT slideshow:
- The COS is more of a POSIX-compliant middleware than an 'operating system,' as it resides on top of an embedded OS.
- Integrates sensors, weapons, communications & control systems to generate decisions and provide a real-time understanding of the operating environment
- Allows autonomous operations, eliminating need for human operators
- Enables accelerated software development... 'best of breed' algorithms shared between platforms (survival of the fittest?)
- Automatic determination of flight path based on mission parameters and threat environment
- Open architecture, non-proprietary source code can be freely used, copied, modified and redistributed
- Initial development timeframe begins Dec 05 and ends Dec 08, with 4 builds planned using a spiral approach
The most significant COS component, in my opinion, would have to be the Discovery/Mediation functionality...
The discovery component provides a set of services that enables the formulation and execution of search activities to locate data assets (files, databases, directories, web pages, streams) by exploitation metadata descriptions stored in and or generated by Information Technology (IT) repositories (directories, registries, catalogs, etc). This also includes the ability to search for metadata semantics to support mediation.
This mediation component provides a set of services that enable transformation processing (adaptation, aggregation, transformation, and orchestration), situational awareness support (correlation and fusion), negotiation (brokering, trading, and auctioning services), and publishing.
What this sounds like to me is a method for storage and retrieval of shared memory resources (by way of metadata [xml?] and semantic analysis), and using those memories to enable adaptation to dynamic situations. That bears a striking resemblance to the way a conscious being uses personal and communal experiences to deal with real-world environments and react to change in real-time. The more I think about it, the more I see the possibility for something truly intelligent to emerge from this architecture. I'm definitely going to have to keep tabs on this project, and if it ends up being open source (as the presentation claims), taking a look under the hood. Now do you understand why I want to work for these people?