Framework for product architectural analysis of unmanned systems and technologies: FA2UST

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Libby, Seth Leon
Mavris, Dimitri N.
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Utilization of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is now widespread across government, military, and soon civil operations. Also, in today's budget-oriented environment, manufacturers face increasing pressure to develop cost-effective, timely products. Although a relatively new industry, UAVs encounter analogous fiscal pressures. Due to multi-mission, capability-based design requirements and tighter fiscal constraints, system architects use reconfigurable or product family architectures to increase performance capabilities or reduce manufacturing costs. However, the introduction of new architectures have some unintended consequences. Examples include cannibalization of performance from commonality and increased complexity in the design process from reconfigurability. Depending on the industry different product ar, it is laborious to determine which architecture should be implemented. Therefore, correctly selecting an initial product architecture to meet present and future requirements is crucial. Consequences of inadequate product architecture implementation include sub-optimal performance, cost overruns, loss of customers, and possible restart or scrapping of the product's production. Therefore, this dissertation proposes a method that aims to aid the system engineers in choosing the most appropriate product architecture when developing vehicles and planning their evolution. The proposed framework combines business strategy with systems engineering to create customer needs; identifies architecture selection drivers; creates a numerical architecture space; and develops evaluation criteria. Drivers are derived from case studies of multiple industries, and validated with sensitivity studies. Commonality and reconfigurability indexes are from previous product design methods are used to numerically represent the architecture space. Finally, new metrics are introduced to capture the trade between requirement satisfaction, flexibility, and complexity of a product architecture. These metrics relate to the product architecture's ability to satisfy given requirements; resilience to changing requirements; and difficulty to be modified. The result provides system architects means to identify favorable product architectures. The framework aids system architects in performing trade-offs between different architecture alternatives, and in identifying relations among a product architecture's characteristics and its development. Execution of the framework occurs before down-selecting configuration during conceptual design and is designed to increase traceability of the decisions made throughout the rest of the design process.
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