Military autonomous cargo carrier shows its worth
18 / 05 / 2018
An un-piloted helicopter showed off its capability last week in a test supply drop to US Marines, pointing the way perhaps for a civil airfreight sector looking to the future.
A UH-1H helicopter employing the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) developed by Virginia-based Aurora, a Boeing company, delivered cargo to US Marines as part of an Integrated Training Exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.
Thus AACUS completed its first ‘closed loop’ mission from take-off to landing for its intended purpose: cargo resupply for the US Marines. The autonomous flight delivered 520 pounds of water, gas/petrol, food and replacement communications gear in an exercise to represent urgently required supplies.
Developed under the US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype programme, the AACUS-enabled UH-1 helicopter is capable of flying completely autonomously, using only its onboard sensors, advanced computers and intelligent algorithms to plan its trajectory and to select its own landing sites in unmapped and hazardous environments.
“The AACUS programme exceeded all of our expectations,” said AACUS project manager Dennis Baker, “The team delivered on each of the ambitious technical performance goals, on schedule and under budget.”
“Aurora is building autonomous systems that will enable tomorrow’s intelligent aircraft,” added John Langford, Aurora’s founder and CEO. “Whether it’s protecting Marines in combat or providing accessible urban transportation, autonomy is the key to the future of aerospace.”