Autonomous Helicopter Completes 30 Mile Journey

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Autonomous Helicopter Completes 30 Mile Journey

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Autonomous Helicopter Completes 30 Mile Journey

By Ofonime Essien

  • A Sikorsky S-76 commercial helicopter flew using MATRIX technology
  • The flight was monitored, and executed by an operator using only a tablet
  • This could reduce aircrew size, and change the type and length of training
Autonomous-helicopter

The helicopter in the trial was the Sikorsky S-76 model which used Sikorsky’s MATRIX system

Most people have heard about self-driving cars, with companies from Google to Honda developing autonomous vehicles.

But driverless technology could be going beyond cars, with the testing of a self-flying helicopter.

A Sikorsky S-76 commercial helicopter has now successfully taken off and flown autonomously 30 miles, before landing itself safely.

Read also: Passenger kicked off plane for taking pictures of Flight Attendant’s Buttocks’

The technology was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for their Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme.

The helicopter used was the Sikorsky S-76 model, and the flight was planned, monitored, and executed by an operator using only a tablet device.

The helicopter took off at Stratford, Connecticut and landed in Plainville, Connecticut, covering a distance of around 30 miles (48 kilometres).

Speaking to Gizmag, Mark Miller, the Vice President of Engineering & Technology at Sikorsky, said ‘With the advances we’ve made, the capability for safe, unobtrusive optionally piloted flight is here.

Read also: How I Became a Helicopter Pilot

‘It has the capability of not only reducing aircrew size, but also changing the type and length of training required for safe operation.’

The Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), used Sikorsky’s MATRIX system. This is the same system that is used in the Optionally Piloted Black Hawk (OPBH) Demonstrator.

The aircraft was equipped with a data link and multi-spectral sensor package.

Unlike other helicopters designed to be pilotless, ALIAS technology works in conjunction with aircrew to reduce pilot workload and improve mission capabilities, while enhancing aircraft safety and reliability.

The flight was planned, monitored, and executed by an operator using only a tablet device.

Read also: This Too, Shall Pass

Unlike other helicopters designed to be pilotless, ALIAS technology works in conjunction with aircrew to reduce pilot workload and improve mission capabilities, while enhancing aircraft safety and reliability.

The flight marked the completion of Phase 1 of a $8 million (£5.6 million) award from DARPA’s ALIAS program, which is aiming to create and deploy greater levels of automation into existing military and commercial aircrafts to reduce, or even remove, on-board crew.

Now that Phase 1 is complete, a further $9.8 million (£6.8 million) will be spent on Phase 2 of the programme.

Phase 2 will involve further flight tests, improvements to the human interface, and incorporation of the technology into a greater range of aircrafts to show the adaptability and portability of the ALIAS system.

Read also: Fastest Helicopter In The World 2013 Eurocopter X3

Chris Van Buiten, Vice President of Sikorsky Innovations, said: ‘The current environment limits the creation of new, optionally piloted platforms.’

‘What [we] are demonstrating is the successful and affordable integration of advanced technology onto existing legacy aircraft to not only set the stage for autonomous operations down the road, but also to immediately improve aircraft performance, reduce maintenance costs, and increase crew and passenger safety.’

(Mail Online)
 

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Ofonime Essien

Mr. Ofonime A. Essien, is a Helicopter Pilot. He is also a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA), Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), a Computer Forensics Expert, a Blogger, Web Master, a Writer and an Entrepreneur. He is an avid reader. He likes motivating others to achieve their dreams through writing and speaking.

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