Business & GA, Military

DARPA Taps Sikorsky to Take ALIAS Through Next Phase

By S.L. Fuller | January 17, 2017
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[Avionics Magazine 01-17-2017] The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Sikorsky a contract for Phase 3 of its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, Lockheed Martin said. Phase 1 and Phase 2 were undertaken by both Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences Corp.

Photo: Aurora Flight Sciences

DARPA’s ALIAS program aims to advance autonomy to reduce pilot workload, augment missions performance, and improve safety and reliability. The end product should be applicable to both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in the form of a kit.

In the first phase of the program, Aurora developed a noninvasive, extensible automated system that was tested on both a simulator and in flight on a Diamond DA-42. Under Phase II, Aurora put its automated system into a Cessna Caravan. Both aircraft made successful test flights. It is currently working to put the same technology into the Bell Helicopter UH-1.

Sikorsky, so far, has developed its Matrix Technology for the DARPA project. It has been successfully integrated into a Cessna Caravan, along with Sikorsky’s Autonomy Research Aircraft (or “SARA” — a modified Sikrosky S-76). In Phase 2, the company showed how its system fits under the cabin floor and within the airframe of both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. Matrix connects to an aircraft’s existing mechanical, electrical and diagnostic systems. Then, a pilot can fly the aircraft via tablet computer capable of recognizing gestures like swiping and tapping. 

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