[Avionics Magazine 11-15-2016] Lockheed Martin demonstrated for the first time how its suite of optionally-piloted helicopters and small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) can work together to successfully locate and extinguish fires, pinpoint the location of a missing person, and bring that person to safety. During this demonstration, the optionally piloted Kaman K-MAX and the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA) engaged in collaborative firefighting and Search-and-Rescue (SAR) with the Indago quadrotor and Desert Hawk 3.1 fixed wing unmanned aircraft system (UAS) providing information, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The K-MAX helicopter, Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), Desert Hawk 3.1 fixed wing unmanned aircraft, and Indago quadrotor. Photo: Lockheed Martin.
The Desert Hawk identified the location of a missing person and SARA, a modified S-76 commercial helicopter, conducted the search and directed the rescue. The Sikorsky Matrix technology on SARA gives operators the ability to fly large rotorcraft in optionally piloted configurations.
Lockheed Martin integrated the Matrix technology with K-MAX so that SARA and K-MAX could communicate with each other during the demonstration. Using information provided by K-MAX, SARA autonomously scanned the area and found a safe place to land. The demonstration was conducted at the New York UAS Test Site Operations Center at Griffiss International Airport.
"Our goal is to support the integration of autonomy into aviation to improve the safety and capabilities for military and commercial missions. Utilizing Matrix to support the mission in this demonstration highlights an example of the ability to reduce pilot workload and augment mission performance," said Mark Miller, vice president, engineering and technology at Sikorsky.