DARPA to Test Self-Flying Black Hawk Helicopters

S-76B commercial helicopter testing ALIAS in Virginia 1 photo
Photo: DARPA
Since their arrival in Earth’s skies, helicopters have forever changed the definition of flying, especially when talking about military and search and rescue operations.
The helicopter's ability to hover above a fixed point has made it indispensable for both troops and rescue services. But as with any human-made machine, helicopters still need human control, and at times the pilot flying it might be of better use doing something else than control the aircraft.

As the premier agency when it comes to developing new technologies for military applications, DARPA is working on a computerized program which is meant to aid pilots by taking over tedious tasks.

During a test conducted this October in an S-76B commercial helicopter at Fort Eustis, Virginia, a pilot used only a tablet to tell the aircraft to take off, fly, hover and then land on its own. While ther machine was doing this, the pilot was free to handle other tasks.

DARPA says that the system, called Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) is capable of achieving “rock steady” precision while hovering for instance in adverse winds, a situation which normally would have put a lot of strain on a human pilot.

By taking over the most difficult tasks, pilots are then freed to fight a battle, rescue a stranded human or plan for the next portion of the flight.

“Really, we want the pilot’s eyes and mind on the fight rather than holding an altitude,” said in a statement DARPA’s program manager for ALIAS, Graham Drozeski.

“That’s the core focus of ALIAS: bringing the latest advances from unmanned aircraft into a piloted aircraft through an interface that provides fluid interaction with the autonomous capabilities.”

Following this month’s test, the agency plans to deploy ALIAS into a UH-60 Black Hawk for testing and flight demonstration. This will happen next year, with the goal of possibly making the system a much-needed tool for combat helicopters.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
Press Release
About the author: Daniel Patrascu
Daniel Patrascu profile photo

Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories