Aurora working on unmanned Huey technology
The work is being carried out as part of the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) programme, which aims to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems.
Capabilities being targeted under AACUS, include VTOL-based obstacle detection and avoidance, autonomous landings at unprepared, off-field, non-cooperative landing sites; as well as dynamic contingency planning to the point of landing, with goal-based supervisory control by any field personnel with no special training. A number of perception and planning capabilities were recently demonstrated on a manned Bell 206 platform at an AACUS flight testing event.
The final phase of the AACUS programme will transition the TALOS system onto an autonomous UH-1H platform currently under development at Aurora, with culminating demonstrations occurring in 2017-2018.
John Wissler, vice president of Aurora’s R&D centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said: ‘The arrival of a Huey as our third test platform frames a key point for future customers – the TALOS system is platform agnostic; you’re not buying a new fleet of helicopters, you’re buying a capability set for your current fleet.
‘TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft –TALOS is transferrable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind. The value of TALOS can be described in a few words – platform agnostic, scalable autonomy, onboard sensing of the environment, and on-board intelligence that no other system in the world can provide.’
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