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Developed under an ONR innovative naval prototype program in partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences, AACUS enables rotary-wing aircraft to fly completely autonomously, even in austere environments.
AACUS completed its first closed loop mission from takeoff to landing for its intended purpose: actual cargo resupply to Marines.
The Marines have been using unmanned helicopters such as K-Max in Afghanistan for several years, but AACUS is different.
"With AACUS, an unmanned helicopter takes the supplies from the base, picks out the optimal route and best landing site closest to the warfighters, lands and returns to base once the resupply is complete--all with the single touch of a handheld tablet."
Aurora has developed multiple technologies under the AACUS program: the digital flight control system which enables the UH-1 to fly autonomously; and the Tactical Autonomous aerial LOgistics System (TALOS) autonomy technology.
During the first phase of the AACUS program, Lockheed Martin and Aurora Technologies developed autonomy systems that were demonstrated at Marine Corps Base Quantico in February and March.
For more information on Aurora's AACUS program, visit www.aurora.aero/AACUS.
Using electro-optical, forward-looking infrared and light-detection and ranging sensors, the AACUS allows the aircraft flight computers to continuously scan the surrounding environment, Brig.
The company said the primary goal of the AACUS program is to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, VTOL systems.
"ONR anticipates the first spin-off out of AACUS will be focused on providing value to war fighters through delivering improved capability for manned rotorcrafts to land in brown-out conditions," Cummings said.
Preparing the next step, the US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has invited bids for the five-year Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (Aacus) programme.
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