[Avionics Magazine 11-10-2016] Aurora's work on the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program will be leveraged to 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. AACUS encompasses the development and implementation of VTOL-based obstacle detection and avoidance, and allows for autonomous landings at unprepared, off-field, non-cooperative landing sites.
Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) on the UH-1H. Photo: Aurora.
At the AACUS flight testing event held today in Northern Virginia, the AACUS program demonstrated on a manned Bell 206 the perception and planning capabilities required for autonomous takeoff, transit and landing. "We know how to make things fly, we've been doing it for over 100 years," said Retired Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems. "What we don't yet know how to do, is how to couple aircraft and autonomous systems together, but great programs like this are helping us get there."
Aurora is also exploring commercial applications for the TALOS technology. "Think of the civilian first responder pilot attempting to land in a remote, storm-ravaged area at night – TALOS senses and alerts to power lines and landing zone obstacles well before the pilot and informs the pilot's maneuvers," said Wissler.
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.