The first unmanned air vehicle rotorcraft able to learn while flying, manoeuvre independently, avoid obstacles and automatically plan a route will be involved in urban warfare demonstrations in June. Developed by the US Georgia Institute of Technology the rotorcraft UAV is called the GTMax.

It is based on the Yamaha RMax radio-controlled helicopter with additional sensors including sonar and radar altimeters, inertial measurement, differential global positioning system and a three-axis magnetometer.

The software used by the GTMax to autonomously cope with unforeseen situations is called the Open Control Platform and was developed by US industry and the Department of Defense over seven years at a cost of $65 million.

Its capabilities include knowing when to switch between navigation systems. For example, if GTMax loses its GPS signal while flying between buildings it changes to a sonar or camera system.

The urban warfare trials will involve co-operation with three fixed-wing UAVs to track target vehicles through a mock village. Funded by the DoD, the GTMax successfully completed urban operation trials at the US Army's Fort Benning base in Georgia last year.

Source: Flight International