Billed as a collaborative effort between researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Sikorsky aircraft, the new UH-60 Black Hawk is a self-flying helicopter that will eventually be used during air-ground missions in hazardous environments. The UH-60 is able fly autonomously due to a series of advanced hardware and software applications known as the Sikorsky Matrix System.
“Sikorsky continues to mature this next-generation suite of autonomy technologies within its Matrix Technology program. We are demonstrating this technology on multiple platforms including our S-76 SARA Demonstrator,”
said Mark Miller, Vice President of Research & Engineering.
“Reducing pilot workload and delivering order-of-magnitude improvements in system intelligence and contingency management will ensure high levels of reliability and safety, and ultimately make unmanned missions by helicopters and VTOL aircraft affordable.”
During its first training exercise, the UH-60 successfully picked up an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and transported it to another location twelve miles away. The UGV then used CBRN (chemical biological, radiological, and nuclear) sensors over a six mile stretch to determine whether or not the environment was hazardous. Although the UGV had to be controlled remotely during a few sections of the six mile stretch, Sikorsky and Carnegie hope to eventually perfect its capabilities so that no human interaction is required. Once this is achieved, entire missions can be completed using autonomous vehicles.
Sikorsky and Carnegie Melon believe that this mission and others like it will prove to the US Army Tank Automotive Research Program that unmanned vehicles and aircraft can be immensely useful during missions to areas unsafe for human contact. Despite the fact that this demonstration was merely a test run, look for unmanned vehicles to make a much larger military impact during real world military operations over the coming years.
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