Defense

October 5, 2012

Smartphones to steer unmanned rotorcraft on the battlefield

The Office of Naval Research awarded contracts to Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences Sept. 28 to develop robotic rotorcraft capable of supporting rapid autonomous aerial cargo delivery to the battlefield.

ONR is initially providing $28 million to the industry-led teams to develop prototype concepts in the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System program. The system would support Navy and Marine Corps units under hostile conditions and could be operated by any warfighter on the ground with a smartphone-like device.

“AACUS responds to warfighter needs derived from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Mike Deitchman, who heads ONR’s Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. “We are trying to develop an autonomous system to deliver supplies to the battlefront more quickly-and to get our vehicle convoys off dangerous roads, where they’re much more vulnerable to attack.”

AACUS, an ONR Innovative Naval Prototype, will produce artificial intelligence and autonomous sensing and perception technologies, including threat- and obstacle-detection and avoidance systems and automatic landing capabilities. The system is designed to allow robotic helicopters to take off, fly and deliver supplies on their own without a human robotics expert physically controlling them.

Ultimately, these technologies could transition not just to unmanned vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, but also to manned rotorcraft that currently experience problems with landing in brown-out conditions.

The initiative is part of a five-year, $98 million effort to develop sensors and control technologies for robotic rotorcraft. Naval forces will one day use a mobile application to summon the autonomous unmanned rotorcraft to deliver combat supplies.

The two teams will commence work this fall to demonstrate their autonomous systems in early 2014. Program officials expect to see beyond line-of-sight operation as well as operations in a GPS-denied environment.

Along with industry partners, ONR has teamed with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center to realize the project’s full potential.

“The goal is to get to a first flight demonstration in 18 months in a realistic setting at a test range with obstacles present,” said Dr. Mary “Missy” Cummings, program officer. “It’s a fly-off to see who can do the best.”

“The science and technology developed will be a huge leap in autonomous aircraft capabilities and human-machine interaction,” said Cummings.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten

U.S., Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria train together at Rapid Trident 2015

Army photograph by SFC Walter E. van Ochten U.S. soldiers, of the 3rd Platoon, 615th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, react as they conduct reacting to contact training as part of their situational trai...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt

Estonian, US forces receive new jump wings

Army photograph by Sgt. Juana M. Nesbitt Pvt. Kalmer Simohov, of Parnu, a volunteer with the Estonian Defense League, receives his U.S. Army Airborne wings following the joint airborne operations exercise at a drop zone in Nurm...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Thomas Spangler

Red Flag offers B-52 crews training that ‘can’t be beat’

Air Force photograph by A1 Class Rachel Loftis A B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 69th Bomb Squadon, Minot Air Force Base, N.D., taxis for take off during Red Flag 15-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 15. The B-52 is a ...
 

 
navy-decommission3

Final West Coast frigate, USS Gary, decommissioned

Navy photograph by POCS Donnie W. Ryanl The guided-missile frigate USS Gary (FFG 51) arrives at Naval Base San Diego after completing its final deployment before decomissioning. During the seven-month deployment Gary operated i...
 
 
Air Force photographby A1C Mikaley Towle

‘Thunder’ rolls at Fort Irwin

Air Force photographby A1C Mikaley Towle An Airman assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., observes as an A-10 Thunderbolt II circle before landing in support of Green Flag West 15-08.5 o...
 
 
DT2

‘Blue’ forces power through Red Flag 15-3

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika An F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 480th Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, flies during a Red Flag 15-3 sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., July 17. Red Fla...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>