UAV Adapts To Battle Damage

By | May 31, 2007
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Athena Technologies, Warrenton, Va., completed a successful flight demonstration of damage tolerant flight control and autonomous landing capabilities on a subscale F/A-18 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) sponsored the demonstration, which was held on April 18, in Maryland. The demonstration involved a subscale F/A-18 UAV, powered by a turbojet engine, that sustained wing battle damage simulated with the in-flight ejection of an aileron. Athena’s damage tolerant controls detected the damage in flight and adapted to the new air vehicle configuration for the effects of the lost aileron, recovering the baseline vehicle performance. The vehicle successfully landed in the damaged state with Athena’s INS/GPS-only autonomous landing system within a few feet of the target touch down point on the airfield runway. Athena said the system provides for real-time autonomous accommodation of damage, followed by an adaptation process that alters the flight-control system to compensate for the effects of the damage.

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