Aurora Flight Sciences is working on the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) and is seeking to integrate its Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS) on a UH-1H HUEY helicopter. TALOS has previously been demonstrated on a Boeing H-6U UNMANNED LITTLE BIRD and three different human-piloted Bell 206 airframes.
AACUS aims to enable rapid delivery of cargo by unmanned and optionally-manned helicopters. It encompasses development of VTOL-based obstacle detection and avoidance, and allows for autonomous landings at unprepared, off-field, non-cooperative landing sites. AACUS also enables dynamic contingency planning to the point of landing, with goal-based supervisory control by any field personnel with no special training.
“The arrival of a HUEY as our third test platform frames a key point for future customers – the TALOS system is platform agnostic; you’re not buying a new fleet of helicopters, you’re buying a capability set for your current fleet,” said John Wissler, Vice President of Aurora’s R&D Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft – TALOS is transferrable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind. The value of TALOS can be described in a few words – platform agnostic, scalable autonomy, on-board sensing of the environment, and on-board intelligence that no other system in the world can provide.”
The final phase of the AACUS program will transition the TALOS system onto an autonomous UH-1H platform currently under development at Aurora, with culminating demonstrations occurring in 2017-2018.