Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin firm and the Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company (DARPA) have efficiently demonstrated to the U.S. Military for the primary time how an uninhabited Black Hawk helicopter flying autonomously can safely and reliably carry out inside and exterior cargo resupply missions, and a rescue operation. Carried out Oct. 12, 14 and 18 as a part of the U.S. Military’s Challenge Convergence 2022 (PC22) experiment, the flights present how present and future piloted utility helicopters might sooner or later fly advanced missions in lowered crew or autonomous mode. This could give Military commanders and aviators higher flexibility in how and when plane and pilots are used, particularly in restricted visibility or contested environments. Sikorsky is partnered with DARPA to develop autonomy expertise that can exponentially enhance the flight security and effectivity of rotary and fixed-wing plane. Sikorsky’s autonomy system, generally known as MATRIX™ expertise, varieties the core of DARPA’s ALIAS (Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System) challenge. Throughout PC22 Expertise Gateway, the Sikorsky and DARPA staff confirmed how the optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter with no people on board can ship a big amount of blood product unhurt by flying low and quick above floor degree utilizing the terrain to masks its signature; resupply troops with an exterior load; and re-route mid-flight to evacuate a casualty.

“We imagine MATRIX expertise is prepared now for transition to the Military as they give the impression of being to modernize the enduring helicopter fleet, and purchase Future Vertical Carry plane,” mentioned Igor Cherepinsky, director of Sikorsky Improvements. “Along with rising flight security and reliability, MATRIX expertise allows survivability in excessive tempo, excessive menace twenty first Century Safety environments the place Black Hawk helicopters function as we speak, and DEFIANT X® and RAIDER X® helicopters might function sooner or later. Uncrewed or lowered crewed helicopters might safely carry out essential and lifesaving missions day or night time in advanced terrain and in contested battlespace.”


Sikorsky Autonomous BLACK HAWK Helicopter

To start the flight demonstrations, pilots flew and landed the Black Hawk plane, then activated the MATRIX system to offer full management to the flight laptop. When the pilots exited, the helicopter autonomously accomplished the next mission demonstrations:
Lengthy-endurance Medical Resupply: The Black Hawk plane flew 83 miles whereas loaded with 400 models of actual and simulated blood – totaling 500 kilos. On reaching 40 miles from its preliminary take-off level, the helicopter descended right into a valley as little as 200 ft above floor degree at 100 knots.
Cargo Supply and Casualty Evacuation (mixed mission): The helicopter lifted off with a 2,600-pound exterior load connected to a 40-foot sling, and flew at 100 knots for half-hour towards a chosen touchdown zone. Whereas in flight, the helicopter was redirected, simulating a situation during which a menace wanted to be neutralized close to the first touchdown web site. Sikorsky demonstrated how a floor operator with a safe radio and pill can take management of the uncrewed helicopter, command it to launch its sling load, after which land to evacuate a casualty from a close-by location. As soon as the manikin on a litter was secured contained in the cabin, the bottom operator launched the plane. In the course of the return flight, a BATDOK well being monitoring machine built-in with the helicopter’s communications system relayed the affected person’s vitals in real-time to a ground-based medical staff.

Sikorsky Autonomous BLACK HAWK Helicopter
Sikorsky Autonomous BLACK HAWK Helicopter

The PC22 demonstrations have been the second set of uninhabited Black Hawk flights this yr. Sikorsky and DARPA will proceed to work towards the transition of this expertise for army operations, akin to aircrew assist and operations, logistics and medical resupply, casualty evacuation, and industrial purposes akin to firefighting, cargo and concrete air mobility. the autonomous BLACK HAWK, outfitted with ALIAS (Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System) begins executing a 30-minute mission. To show its capacity to adapt to quite a lot of mission environments, the uninhabited BLACK HAWK navigates at typical pace and altitude via a simulated cityscape, avoiding imagined buildings whereas route re-planning in actual time. All of the whereas, on-board sensor simulation supplies real-time impediment information. The BLACK HAWK helicopter then autonomously executes a sequence of pedal turns, maneuvers and straightaways earlier than finishing an ideal touchdown. As soon as it shuts itself down, the 2 pilots strategy and re-enter the plane. The OPV (optionally-piloted car) change is reversed from zero to 2, after which the pilots taxi again down the runway. This historic BLACK HAWK flight marks the primary time {that a} UH-60 has flown autonomously and builds on latest demonstrations on the U.S. Military’s Challenge Convergence 2021. It illustrates how ALIAS-enabled plane will help troopers efficiently execute advanced missions with selectable ranges of autonomy – and with elevated security and reliability.