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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sikorsky Highlights S-76 SARA Tech Demonstrator at Helitech

By Andrew Healey

Sikorsky autonomous research aircraft (SARA) near the
company’s Development Flight Center in Florida.
Courtesy of Sikorsky Aircraft
Sikorsky Aircraft (Helitech Stand E60) will promote its Matrix Technology research program, launched during the summer to develop systems and software that will improve flight safety for all types of VTOL aircraft.

Matrix Technology aims to give both rotary and fixed-wing VTOL aircraft the level of system intelligence needed to complete complex missions with minimal human oversight, even at low level.

“VTOL pilots increasingly will become mission managers (and) will feel comfortable letting the aircraft fly itself,” says Mark Miller, Sikorsky’s vice president of research and engineering.

“Matrix will provide order-of-magnitude improvements in system intelligence to ensure high levels of reliability, and ultimately make unmanned missions by helicopters and VTOL aircraft of all sizes (more) affordable.”

One ambition is to transform the loss rate for unmanned aircraft, currently averaging one per 1,000 hours, to one per 100,000. “Robust architecture, multi-level contingency management and advanced system intelligence algorithms will enable this transformation,” said Miller.

An S-76 is dedicated to the rapid flight testing of software and hardware, including multi-spectral sensors, that were previously restricted to the systems integration labs at Sikorsky’s Connecticut headquarters. When not in flight, the aircraft can be configured as its own simulator to develop and test autonomy software and hardware.

Related: Matrix Technology Seeks to 'Execute Missions Within a Virtual View of the World'

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