reported by Bořivoj Hlava on April 25, 2014

UNIT: Bořivoj Hlava, Senior Designer, Sandbox Design Dept.
TO: Arma 3 Dev-Branch Users
OPSUM: Autonomous Updates: recent changes & planned features


During Arma 3's development, UAVs (Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles) took some big steps forward. Arma 2's purely scripted system was transformed into a robust, engine-implemented core feature for release. However, some ‘rough edges’ still remained; particularly, in terms of user experience and more advanced control.

Since January – in part based on community feedback – we've invested time into updates and fixes. Below, we summarise this progress and share our plans for upcoming new features.


Recently finished UI tweaks and functionality changes for the UAV Terminal should create a more intuitive user experience. Aside from UI redesign, we've also added new control elements. It’s now possible to create markers on the map directly from the terminal by double clicking LMB. You now also have the ability to disable autonomous behaviour. Basically, although drones have AI to scan automatically for enemies, plan its path, etc., it's now possible to disable this feature and transform any UAV into an 'ordinary vehicle'. This benefits situations like reconnaissance where you want to be sure that your UGV won't do anything stupid!

Another useful feature is the 'AV Camera' – a live feed from your drone – that can be viewed without opening the terminal. It enables you to use various modes (e.g. thermal and night vision) and see what’s happening around the vehicle (or your own squad), which can be particularly useful during combat.


We also received feedback regarding improved and additional control over UAVs. For example, you're now able to control the movement of UGVs while in the gunner position (avoiding the need to switch between gunner/driver every few moments). Furthermore, connecting into UGVs has been tweaked; there are now separate options for entering as driver or gunner via the terminal, bypassing the need to enter first then switch. In terms of weapons systems, authority over firing missiles on fixed-wing UAVs has moved to the gunner position.

Additionally, the functionality of laser designation has been tweaked. Previously, you had to mark a target and wait for the AI to fire. However, sometimes it would first alter course. Given that UAV missiles and bombs are guided (a drone only needs to fly in the approximate direction of a target), this sometimes caused unneccesary headaches! Now, drones will stay on their path (defined by waypoints and commands issued via the AV Terminal). You may simply send a fixed-wing UAV to a given position, designate the target, and fire manually.


So, what's next? Well, aside from fixing and polishing, there are also some more complex features which we'd like to implement in the near future. 'Camera locking' – enabling drone operators to lock the camera on a given position and keep it once UAV controls are released – is one of these additions, which we hope will make the 'live feed' an even more powerful tool. Stealing enemy drones, too, was a feature raised in community feedback. Although several simple proposals have so far been considered, we've ran into some drawbacks for certain types of game modes. But, fear not, we've looked into other options and we hope to deliver some sort of stealing mechanic soon™.

Overall, given the increasing role that drones play on the modern battlefield, we hope that the UAV systems presented in Arma 3 are more user-friendly and that drones will feature more often as a regular part of missions. If you have any further feedback to UAV system, let us know and help us create even better game!

  • Darter doesn't have FAKs anymore
  • Fixed: UGV_01 has different texture for body and turret
  • Fixed: UGV will not progress to next waypoint when controlling turret
  • Fixed: Commanding is not accessible in direct control of UAV
  • Fixed: Radio is not accessible in direct control of UAV
  • Fixed: [UAV] Being renegade after crashing Greyhawk
  • New parameter killFriendlyExpCoef set. Player shouldn't be killed by friendly units after destruction of one UAV when controlling it.
  • Fixed: Darter has been adjusted to withstand assembly even inside houses
  • Airplane does not takeOff just because player took control (UAV)
  • RscAVCamera is able to display UAV camera feed
  • Added possibility for only one PiP in UAV view (primary from gunner position)
  • Darter is able to rotate better on spot (configured backRotorForceCoef)
  • AV Camera - Can't be invoked after releasing AV controls as a gunner
  • Fixed: Problem when calling CreateVehicleCrew on Linux
  • PIP mode (VIS, NV, TI) is the same as mode in AVs optics (could be changed by player while in control of AV)
  • Fixed: Problems with skinned instancing when PiP is used
  • Added: script command connectTerminalToUAV accepts objNull for UAV disconnection
  • Added: script command showUAVFeed
  • Added: script command shownUAVFeed
  • Support of UAV feed in description.ext (showUAVFeed with the same functionality as https://community.bistudio.com/wiki/description.ext#showGPS)
  • Fixed: Splendid camera didn't work well with UAVs and remotely controlled units
  • UAV Terminal map interaction has been enhanced
  • Redesigned: AV Terminal UI interface
  • Greyhawk/Ababil UAVs have missiles/bombs controlled by the gunner
  • Fixed: Camera of Greyhawk / Ababil CAS variants
  • Possibility to set radius of loiter waypoint (in UAV Terminal)
  • Fixed: auto-closing of GPS, watches, UAV PIP, compass when user switches to optics mode
  • Added: UAV follow task - you can set it by clicking on a player and selecting “Follow me”
  • Fixed: Drawing of icons on UAVs controlled by players