Aurora Flight Sciences continues to break ground on the development of advanced autonomous capabilities for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems. Aurora's work on the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program will integrate the company's Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS) on a UH-1H helicopter. The primary goal of the AACUS program is to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, VTOL systems.
At the AACUS flight testing event held Thursday in Northern Virginia, the program demonstrated on a manned Bell 206 the capabilities required for autonomous takeoff, transit and landing.
Aurora's TALOS system has been demonstrated previously on a Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird flown autonomously, and three different human-piloted Bell 206 aircraft.
"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, Mass. "TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft -TALOS is transferable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind.”
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. Aurora's TALOS system is being developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research.