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

Fifth generation Army tank cartridge reports loudly for duty

Army photograph A new tank cartridge was recently tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. Pictured here are: (from left) Kent Evans, TRADOC Capability Manager – Armored Brigade Combat Team; Kevin Mulligan, Armament Researc...
 
 

Acquisition community works to improve tradecraft

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its tradecraft, Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said April 16. McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Associations National Logistics Forum. Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times,...
 
 
B1a

B-1B software upgrade to ensure future warfighting capabilities

Air Force photograph by Ethan Wagner An Edwards B-1B Lancer takes off on April 1, 2014, to begin testing its new Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades. The SB 16A software will work in conjunction with the long-range bomberĂ­...
 

 

45th Space Wing launches NRO Satellite on board Atlas V

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:45 p.m. April 10 carrying a classified national security payload. The payload was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. “I am proud of the persistence and focus of the...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Smarter spending for Air Force acquisitions

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello briefs attendees April 16, 2014, on how today’s budget environment is driving change for both government and industry as part of the Air Force Associati...
 
 
DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

U.S., Poland defense leaders find new areas for cooperation

DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. Amid deep concerns about...
 




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>