Green Hills Software announced that Saab is using its Integrity operating system to control its Skeldar unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Saab also selected the company’s multi-debugger and the Probe software suites for use in the development of the UAV’s redundant flight control unit, which was based on the Freescale MPC5554 microcontroller, said David Kleidermacher, the company’s chief technology officer.

The Integrity operating system meets the Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements for technologies used inside both manned and unmanned aircraft, Kleidermacher said. Specifically, the FAA approved the software as the first real-time operating system certified for flight safety and security. Operating systems commonly rate at DO-178B, a level exceeded by Integrity, according to Kleidermacher. “Our software is the first to receive certification for a real-time operating system that was certified for DO-178 level A, which is the highest designation for safety and security in flight,” he said.

The software is used specifically for unmanned aerial vehicles. In the UAV world, operators control the devices remotely using RF transmitters. Fears are growing that a rogue hacker could commander those vehicles, Kleidermacher said.

“We offer a level of security to ensure that can’t be done,” he said. “The OS guarantees that someone can’t get into the network.”

Saab’s Skeldar is a fully autonomous, lightweight, unmanned helicopter. It can hover and perform vertical take-offs and landings with minimal field preparation or additional equipment. The system is designed to support military and civil operations, as well as national and international missions, and to operate during day and night. Potential applications include target acquisition and designation, surveillance, reconnaissance and electronic warfare, Kleidermacher said. It weighs roughly 330 pounds, has a maximum speed of 62 mph, and offers 4-hour operating endurance and a communication range of up to 62 miles.

The operating system was put into place to control the UAV from a remote location. However, the company has worked with the Freescale processor, so its engineers layered the software without the need to recode or rewrite to adapt it specifically for the Saab UAV, Kleidermacher said.

“We already had customers on that processor, so we didn’t have to adapt it for this application,” he said.