While previous demonstrations have showcased the system’s autonomy capabilities and interactions with trained operators, this is the first demonstration in which the aircraft performed cargo and utility missions in an operationally-relevant training environment with Marine interaction. As part of the demonstration, Marines loaded supplies for the aircraft before clearing the autonomy system for autonomous takeoff.
“The Marines’ vision for the future of vertical lift operation and support is optionally-piloted aircraft,” said AACUS Program Manager Stephen Chisarik. “Aurora’s system enables any rotary-wing aircraft to detect and react to hazards in the flight path, and make appropriate adjustments to keep the aircraft safe.”
“We’ve developed this great capability ahead of requirements and it’s up to us to determine how to use it,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command. “The young marines today have grown up in a tech-savvy society, which is an advantage. We’ve got to keep pushing and moving this technology forward.” – Aurora Flight Sciences
Featured image of a Marine offloading cargo from a UH-1 Huey equipped with an Office of Naval Research-funded Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) autonomy kit following a landing during final testing at Marine Corps Base Quantico by Aurora Flight Sciences