Aurora Flight Sciences (AFS) recently tested a system that enables traditional helicopters to fly unmanned.
The Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS), a system that attaches to full-scale rotary-wing aircraft and enables them to fly unmanned in and out of ‘austere’ landing zones was attached to a Bell 206 helicopter on May 25 and flown around Bealeton, Virginia, the Pentagon said. Little human assistance is needed for operation, such is the level of autonomy.
Pilots control the helicopters remotely with a military version of a tablet computer and an installed app.
“We can put this kit on any aircraft and as long as we do the science and engineering behind it, it can fly autonomously,” commented Marine Capt. Christopher Alfaro, the logistics integration officer for the logistics division and strategy branch of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
AFS plans to test the system on a UH-1H Huey helicopter from 2017 to 2018, with the aim of implementing the technology into the US Marine Corps in 2018, the Pentagon said.
“This system is going to allow pilots to let the system do the risky jobs,” Osprey pilot Maj. Jason Jewell said.