Human Machine Interface for High-end Optronic Systems in Naval Platforms

Optronic System is a combination of optical and electronics image capturing and processing technologies deployed on defence applications such as Naval ships, submarines, aircrafts, drones, and combat ground vehicles. Optronic systems greatly aid in intelligence gathering and real-time situational awareness by providing superior capabilities of ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance).Human Machine Interface for Naval Platforms, HMI for Defense Systems

This case study outlines Mistral’s expertise in design and development of a next-gen HMI system with dual display operator console, touch input panel and powerful GPGPU sub-systems to process and control various functions of Optronic systems in Naval Platforms.

The Customer

The customer is a leading research and development organisation in the field of optical and electro-optical instrumentation.

The Customer Requirement

The customer approached Mistral to design and develop a Human Machine Interface (HMI) System including operator console hardware and embedded application software for HMI controls and interfacing of various Optronic sub-systems. The Human Machine Interface (HMI) system is a powerful multi-function image processing console that gathers data from multiple Optronic sub-systems in a Naval platform, process the data in real-time and provide crucial, actionable intelligence to the users for tactical decision-making. The operator console had to be of industrial grade and modular in design and consist of multiple displays, input devices and switches for various operations. The HMI electronics had to incorporate necessary hardware for interfacing with various sub-systems of Optronic System and other external systems.

Customer requirement can be summarised as,

a) Development of Human Machine Interface unit
b) Functional and performance testing of integrated system
c) Development of embedded applications and interface with various electronics in HMI and optronic subsystems
d) Support for simulating various test interfaces

One of the critical requirements was to constrain the overall dimension of the HMI, which had to be of a certain height and width as per the customer specification, because it needed to fit into a compact space.

HMI for Naval Platform – Solution Provided

Mistral designed and developed a state-of-the-art HMI unit, conforming to customer requirements. The Integrated HMI unit consists of,

a) HMI console interfacing optronic sub-systems
b) HMI electronics including the processing & display engines, video switching & recording
c) Embedded application to interface various electronics supporting video capture, video switching, annotation & recording,
d) Application to communicate between various modules
e) Application for testing interfaces
f) Accessories such as video cables, interfacing cables and power cables for interconnecting different modules.

HMI Console

Mistral designed a modular, industrial grade ruggedized HMI console, which enables easy transportation. The modular structure of the console enables easy disassembly, re-assembly & installation. The enclosure of the HMI console is built using Aerospace grade Alloy HE 30 and powder-coated as per marine standard and equipped with shock and vibration protection. A rugged mechanical chassis is designed to house a 6U VPX Backplane with seven card slots for several modules. The chassis is also provided with an 800-Watt Dual redundant power supply module to power the modules. An additional power supply is incorporated to provide 12V DC output for switching on relays, powering various Optronic cameras and also to power the thermal management devices.

The HMI console is provided with two 21.5-inch LCD panels for displaying data from several Optronic sensors. These LCDs act as the primary displays to provide simultaneous display of images, text, and aid annotation over video images. The panels also display various sensor controls, operating modes & system status.Human Machine Interface for Naval Platforms, HMI for Defense Systems

The HMI console is also provided with a 10.4′ Colour TFT LCD touch control panel, a two-axis omni-directional joystick, track ball, keyboard, audio in & out, speakers, push-button switches for powering various connected devices, IO panel consisting of MIL-grade connectors supporting video inputs, fans, anti-condensation heater, temperature sensors, headphone & a heath monitoring unit. The 10.4″ TFT panel along with keyboard, joystick, trackball, and other function keys allow the user to interact with the Optronic system. The 10.4″ TFT panel also enables communication and control of LCD Displays.

The HMI console is built with a robust EMI rejection, and EMC performance to meet MIL-STD-461F standards. The HMI Cabinet is also designed to comply with Mil-STD-810F standards to meet harsh environmental conditions.

HMI Electronics

The HMI is built around a powerful Intel i7 SBC and Graphics card along with video switching & recording units and several VPX form factor cards for Ethernet, Serial IO, 1553 XMC & PMC modules & a flash storage of 1TB capacity.

Key components of the HMI Electronics,

  • Intel i7 SBC – 6U VPX Intel Core i7 SBC
  • XMC GPGPU Graphics Card – Rugged NVIDIA Quadro Pascal GP107-based video processing mezzanine module
  • Multi-channel Serial Card – Four Channel Gigabit Ethernet Interface
  • Network Interface Card – 8 Channel RS232/RS422/RS485 programmable serial interface, HD50 connector
  • MIL-STD-1553B Interface Card – Multi-Channel, Rugged XMC Card from DDC
  • Video Recording unit – Dual Channel HD Video Recorder
  • HD Video Switching unit – HD Video Distribution Unit
  • VPX Carrier Card – Custom designed carrier card supporting both XMC & PMC form factors

Interfaces to communicate with Optronic System

The HMI system captures both digital (HD-SDI, SD-SDI) and analogue (Composite) video inputs from various Optronic sub-systems in the Naval platform. GigE is used within the system to ensure low latency data transfer between video switching and recording units. In addition, Mistral provided interfaces such as RS232, RS422, RS485, and MIL-1553B as required by the customer.

HMI Application

Human Machine Interface for Naval Platforms, HMI for Defense SystemsMistral developed and integrated an embedded application program on RHEL platform using Qt framework in C++ for interfacing and controlling various Optronic sub-systems. The intuitive, user-friendly UI application supports video capture, recording, video switching & annotation. The application allows videos from multiple inputs and different formats and aids the user to easily switch among them in real-time.

How the system functions!

The HMI system has 12 video input channels that receive analog/digital data from several optronic sub-systems in the Naval platform. The video data is displayed in real-time on the HMI system. The UI enables a quad video display on one screen with a provision of input channel selection. The user can also annotate videos from any input channel and the annotated video can be recorded for future analysis and references. The system also provides a real-time recording and playback feature.