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Defence Helicopter

ALIAS achieves first autonomous take-off

30th March 2021 - 08:58 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The Sikorsky S-70 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) Black Hawk was retrofitted with a technology kit to give it full-authority, fly-by-wire flight controls. (Photo: Sikorsky)

DARPA and Sikorsky demonstrated supervised autonomy capabilities using a specially converted S-70 OPV Black Hawk.

Sikorsky and DARPA recently tested optionally piloted technology for the first time, by demonstrating complete supervised autonomy capabilities in an S-70 Black Hawk converted into an optionally piloted vehicle (OPV).

Functions demonstrated under Phase III of the DARPA Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme included autonomous take-off, landing and two simulated obstacle avoidance scenarios.

All of these were completed with a tablet using Sikorsky MATRIX autonomous technology, the Lockheed Martin subsidiary noted in a 30 March announcement.

Through ALIAS ‘and our unique combination of autonomy software and hardware, we are bringing our customers one step closer to safer and smarter flight’, said Igor Cherepinsky, director of Sikorsky Innovations.

Ultimately, Sikorsky intends to apply autonomy technology to emerging DoD mission requirements such as the Future Vertical Lift programme run by the US Army. As a result, the company argues, pilots would be able to focus on transporting personnel or cargo instead of the mechanics required for contemporary flight.

Sikorsky stated that it will continue to develop and transition its pilot-direct autonomy capabilities under Phase III of ALIAS until 2022, as Lockheed Martin continues to invest in the development of optionally manned and unmanned systems. 

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