Autonomous Helicopter Delivers Operational Cargo to US Marines

Published: 18 May 2018 | Author: Mike Rees

US Marines autonomous helicopter

Aurora Flight Sciences has announced that its Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) has successfully delivered cargo to US Marines in the Integrated Training Exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California.

AACUS completed its first closed loop mission from takeoff to landing for its intended purpose: actual cargo resupply to Marines. The AACUS enabled UH-1H helicopter successfully completed an autonomous cargo sustainment flight delivering 520 pounds of water, gasoline, MREs, and replacement communications gear including a packed cooler to represent urgently required cargo such as blood. This was the first ever autonomous point-to-point cargo resupply mission providing critical logistics support to Marines in need.

Developed under Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Innovative Naval Prototype program, the AACUS enabled UH-1 helicopter is capable of flying completely autonomously, using only its onboard sensors, advanced computers and intelligent algorithms to plan its trajectory and to select its own landing sites in unmapped and hazardous environments. “The AACUS program exceeded all of our expectations,” said Dennis Baker, AACUS PM, “The team delivered on each of the ambitious technical performance goals, on schedule and under budget.”

“Aurora is building autonomous systems that will enable tomorrow’s intelligent aircraft,” said John Langford, Aurora’s founder and CEO. “Whether it’s protecting Marines in combat or providing accessible urban transportation, autonomy is the key to the future of aerospace.”