Army Tests Sikorsky-DARPA Autonomous Flight System on Modified Commercial Helicopter

The U.S. Army has demonstrated an autonomous and optionally-piloted technology that Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky subsidiary developed with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency through DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System program.

Lockheed said Monday Army pilots tested the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft — a modified version of the S-76B commercial helicopter — and onboard MATRIX system through automated takeoff and landing, obstacle avoidance, automatic landing zone selection and contour flight scenarios.

The demonstration was part of a broader effort of the Army, Sikorsky and DARPA to modernize ALIAS for fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters.

“Future vertical lift aircraft will require robust autonomous and optimally-piloted systems to complete missions and improve safety,” said Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky’s innovations group.

DARPA created the ALIAS program in a push to help operators manage manned operations and facilitate unmanned and minimal crew operations.

The agency said Sikorsky will integrate and demonstrate the system into a Black Hawk helicopter sometime in 2019.

Sikorsky also collaborates with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the use of ALIAS technology on military and commercial aircraft platforms.

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