Lockheed Martin-led team to develop new autonomous technology
A team led by Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract to explore highly advanced autonomous technologies aboard an unmanned vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The $13.5 million contract was awarded by the US Office of Naval Research (ONR).
The contract will see Lockheed Martin lead a team of industry, government, and academic partners develop a technology that will enable aircraft to operate under supervisory control. A human operator will interact with the system at a high level while low level control is left to the automation.
According to the company, the resulting technology will have the potential to improve the utility and effectiveness of current unmanned VTOL aircraft, as well as offer pilots supplemental decision aids on legacy manned platforms.
The five year effort will see the team demonstrate the capabilities of its Open-Architecture Planning and Trajectory Intelligence for Managing Unmanned Systems (OPTIMUS) architecture during an initial 18-month phase. OPTIMUS is designed to be platform-agnostic, drawing from Lockheed Martin's experience with the unmanned K-MAX cargo resupply programme and the combined teams' expertise in the fields of sensing, autonomy and human-machine interaction.
Roger Il Grande, director of Airborne Systems for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems & Sensors business, said: ‘This contract provides our team the opportunity to demonstrate how far we can expand the technology envelope. Some of our cutting edge technology has already been demonstrated on K-MAX for the Army's Autonomous Technologies for Unmanned Air System programme, and is now deployed with the Marine Corps on the aircraft in Afghanistan.’
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