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New software developed recently, called the Heresy multi-mission control (MMC), now enables one operator to oversee a half-dozen large UAV’s, assigning tasks and monitoring statuses from a single laptop.

Behind the technology is General Atomics. Heresy Chief Engineer Chen Li stresses that the company wants to reduce the required manpower, training and footprint required to prepare an unmanned aircraft system for deployment.

“People would say reliable and capable, but the complaint we would get is it’s hard to use,” Li said. “So that was our focus.”

Heresy software runs on a generic computer. The company also worked to automate as much as possible, so what used to be a mandatory two-person pre-flight checklist now requires only the operator. Heresy automatically completes what it can and prompts operator involvement only when and where necessary.

The primary time-saver is the automation of long checklists that operators previously needed to manually complete. Now, the system speeds through much of the process on its own. When human intervention is required, it provides an alert and automatically brings up the relevant screen.

The software can work with other company’s aircraft, not only General Atomics, as long as those report the proper messages as outlined by the U.S. Defense Department.

The end result is that Heresy provides command-and-control capabilities from a screen that looks a lot like a map screen in a war video game and is compatible with an Xbox controller, in order to take today’s user into consideration, and not only the engineer behind the technology.

Because of the increased automation enabled by the connectivity on drones, the software allows one operator to control five or six UAVs at once.

If there is an emergency situation, the system will ping the operator with an alert, allowing that drone to be quickly selected, at which point a course of action will be suggested for approval, as reported by