Autonomous System Can Fly Any Helicopter


Aurora Flight Sciences has successfully tested new technology that will enable pilots to remotely fly standard helicopters, the U.S. Defense Department said last week. The sensor package, called the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System, or AACUS, enables a soldier to control the aircraft via an intuitive application on a tablet computer. “The AACUS is a sensor package that when installed on an aircraft allows for it to be unmanned,” said Marine Capt. Christopher Alfaro, logistics officer for the project. “Which means we can put this kit on any aircraft and as long as we do the science and engineering behind it, it can fly autonomously.” The AACUS system is designed to quickly detach and attach to various aircraft used by the Marine Corps.

The project’s mission is to make flight in a combat environment safer and easier for the pilots. “This system is going to allow pilots to let the system do the risky jobs,” said Marine Maj. Jason Jewell, an Osprey pilot. Jewell said he expects to begin testing the AACUS on the UH-1H Huey helicopter by this time next year. Aurora said they plan to implement the technology into the Marine Corps fleet in 2018. The recent flight tests were completed using a Bell 206 helicopter, in Bealeton, Virginia, on May 25.