Phoenix Systems from Atende Group has begun design work on an operating system for critical applications in unmanned vehicles. The new version of the Phoenix-RTOS 178 real-time operating system will be compliant with the DO-178C standard used by civil aviation agencies, such as the FAA and EASA, in certification and admission processes of the software to be used in aircrafts. The project received a grant of PLN 5.6 million from the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR) under the ′Fast Track′ (′Szybka Ścieżka′) competition. The estimated value of the project is PLN 9 million.
The system version compliant with the DO-178C standard will allow Phoenix-RTOS to be used in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which, according to the EU regulations introduced in 2019, will have to be certified by aviation agencies to conduct missions in the urban environment (U-space) and to perform missions of special interest (e.g. transporting hazardous substances, medical supplies). It is predicted that the use of existing operating systems for critical applications in unmanned vehicles will be limited due to their high licensing costs and support for hardware platforms of high computing power and big consumption of power. In contrast, the Phoenix-RTOS 178 version will be released, like the base Phoenix-RTOS 3 version, as an open-source, and only the certification package documenting the system's compliance with the DO-178C requirements will be licensed.
As part of the project, in addition to the operating system version, a mechanism for partitioning of operating system resources will be developed, an application environment for aviation applications compliant with ARINC 653 (APEX) will be executed, a reference autopilot for UAVs with resource triplication (hardware and software) will be prepared to meet new certification requirements, and development work will be carried out on a radio communication system based on the SC-FDMA modulation for unlicensed frequency bands. The system development environment compliant with DO-178C and certification package will be executed in cooperation with an experienced auditor of aviation applications.
– Entering the rapidly growing market of unmanned aerial vehicles and perhaps future EVTOL vehicles is consistent with the company's strategy. This is the next application sector in addition to Smart Grid. Poland has a long tradition of aviation industry and we can see that there are a lot of companies that are trying to develop unmanned systems. Unfortunately, they face major limitations in the form of dependence on foreign, mainly American, suppliers of operating systems compliant with DO-178C. In order to compete on the global market, Polish aviation companies must have a proven European partner for such a fundamental part of software as the operating system. Our focus now is to inform the aviation environment as widely as possible about this project and allow it to influence its shape. Integration of the environment around the native technology is the key to success – Paweł Pisarczyk, CEO of Phoenix Systems, comments.
For the purposes of the project, the company opened an office in Łomża and started cooperation with local universities, including Łomża State University of Applied Sciences, in the area of recruitment and training of appropriate engineering staff.