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.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Damon Kasberg

C-17 crew gets Army Strykers into the ‘fight’

Air Force photograph by SrA. Damon Kasberg An Army Stryker assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, off loads from a C-17 Globemaster III in support of Steadfast Javelin II on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Sept. 4, 2014. Steadfast J...
 
 
Navy photograph

Navy integrates common software into next-generation unmanned carrier-based system

Navy photograph Navy flight test pilot demonstrates functionality of new software for the future Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike system at the program’s Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. lab...
 
 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Christopher Marasky

Investing in the Army’s future

Army photograph An M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, fires a missile downrange. The U.S. Army vision for lethality science and technology investment is to enable overmatch in weapon systems for both offensi...
 

 
navy-sub

Navy christens submarine John Warner

Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785), the first of the Virginia-class attack submarines to be homported in Naval Station Norfolk, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Va., Sept. 6. “The...
 
 
Army photograph by SSgt. Marcus P. Caliste

Army Prepares for Dangers Lurking in “Deep Future” Megacities

Army photograph by SSgt. Marcus P. Caliste Within about two decades, roughly 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities, particularly megacities of more than 10 million, and this week’s Exercise Unifie...
 
 
Army photograph

EXERCISE IN KOREA STRENGTHENING PACIFIC PARTNERSHIPS

Army photograph Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of the U.S. Army’s I Corps, visits with Republic of Korea commanders, Aug. 26, 2014. Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which culminated last week in South Korea, is helping...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>