After demonstrating its autonomous aerial cargo/utility system (AACUS) on two other helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences will develop an unmanned UH-1H Huey with its Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS).
The final phase of the AACUS programme will transition TALOS onto an autonomous UH-1H that Aurora will demonstrate by 2017, the company says.
The US Office of Naval Research originally sponsored AACUS, which allows an unmanned rotorcraft to land without the help of trained troops on the ground. That unmanned system could provide an alternative method of delivering supplies to remote operating bases or other threatened areas.
ONR tested AACUS aboard the Lockheed Martin and Kaman Aerospace’s single-seat, optionally piloted helicopter K-Max in 2014. That same year, Aurora used AACUS on the Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird. Aurora also modified the helicopter with a LIDAR and electro-optical sensors, which scan for obstacles.
Aurora is mulling commercial applications for TALOS, particularly for civilian first responders flying in storms or nighttime. The system’s LIDAR allows the pilot to see smaller obstacles, such as power lines.
During a 10 November flight test, Aurora demonstrated AACUS’s planning capabilities for takeoff, transit and landing on a manned Bell Helicopter 206, according to a company press release. The company has demonstrated TALOS on at least three manned Bell 206 aircraft, but the system could be integrated into any manned or unmanned rotorcraft.