What is an electronic architecture (EA)?
An Electronic Architecture (EA) such as you may find in a car, aeroplane, or a vessel comprises the following components:
- Sensors: The eyes of the system, from engine sensors or GPS through to rear parking sensors, radar or a direction finder
- Effectors: Controllers, from opening valves to actuating the ABS
- Data: The messages that report on and control the parts of the system
- Networks: The medium by which data is passed around the system
- Processors/software: The hub of the system, listening to and issuing messages, processing and presenting information or taking direct action
In turn, they provide information and control to those driving, piloting or navigating the vehicle in the form of:
- Dashboard: The most visible part of the EA, where platform status is displayed
- Controls: Physical or software items that are used to adjust the platform via the actuators
- Situational Awareness tools and aids: Help those controlling the vehicle to achieve their aims
What are the benefits of using an EA?
- Reduced through life costs and less refit, realise the most from your investment in vehicle or vessel platform
- No vendor lock in during platform lifetime
- Based on standard off the shelf components – no specialist hardware required: easy replacement and upgrade
- Maximise mission effectiveness by using latest technology and emerging mission methods
- Crew interface can be tailored to exact requirements – especially important for difficult missions/working environment
- Facilitates team working through an integrated platform
- Provides a bespoke solution for an off-the-shelf price
Why the SCISYS EA?
A management information system allows crewmembers to monitor and operate the platform's navigation, communication, machinery and systems without leaving their seats.
Unlike many electronic architectures, our approach to EAs are not closely integrated with any specific hardware – all the component parts can be replaced with matching or new components from any supplier. This allows legacy and new devices to be integrated progressively which often suits the needs of marine systems where a step change is not always possible. This flexibility is possible due to the underlying software architecture that allows hardware and software components, even network types, to be replaced and updated without affecting the other parts of the system.
This means that changes and advances in hardware can be accommodated, giving a secure basis for through life support of the class. Additionally it means that advances in technology and the evolving business remit can also be accommodated. Furthermore components used for a particular platform can be re-used in other classes and platform types.
Where have SCISYS used an EA?
SCISYS delivered an EA as the backbone of a training system for the Bowman UK military radio system. Subsequently we have used EAs as part of:
- Military Vehicles - the FRES prototype and the Warrior turret replacement prototype and into production. They have also been used in various research projects.
- Marine Vehicles - as the SEAF (SCISYS Electronic Architecture Framework) product, initially into the RNLI Shannon Class
- Messaging systems - as part of the system that brings together different message streams in battlefield information systems