Aurora Makes Any Helicopter Autonomous

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A system developed by Aurora Flight Sciences can be installed on any rotary-wing aircraft and enable it to fly autonomously, the company said in a news release on Wednesday. The Office of Naval Research will conduct a final demonstration of the system next week, Dec. 13, at the Marine Corps’ urban training center in Quantico, Virginia. The system can be operated by any Marine in the field, “intuitively and quickly, from a hand-held tablet, without prior training required,” Aurora said, making it easy to request supplies even in austere or dangerous environments. A UH-1 “Huey” helicopter will be flown in the demo.

“AACUS [Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System] gives revolutionary capability to our fleet and force,” said Dennis Baker, AACUS program officer. “It can be used as a pilot aid in degraded visual environments, or allow fully autonomous flights in contested environments, keeping our pilots out of harm’s way.” Aurora, which was recently acquired by Boeing, has said they plan to implement the technology in the Marine Corps fleet next year. Next week’s demo will be open to the press.

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