A historical perspective on the application of autonomy in rotorcraft
Through the Office of Naval Research's Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program, the Navy and Marine Corps are working towards fielding autonomous Vertical Takeoff and Lift platforms for cargo delivery, ISR, MEDEVAC and CASEVAC missions. AACUS is a 5 year, $98 Million project that will demonstrate full autonomy during decent and landing phases of a rotorcraft in unprepared terrain, with minimal human assistance. AACUS is possible due to great progress in the application of autonomy in rotorcraft over the last 60 years, beginning with remote control drones such as the Kaman HTK-1K drone in 1957 and the Gyrodyne QH-50 in the early 1960s. Canadair developed the C-227 in the late 1970s, while the 1990s and 2000s produced the Bombardier CL-327 Guardian, Bell Eagle Eye, Fire Scout, and RQ-16 T-Hawk, among others. Platforms currently in development and in use for research, test, and evaluation purposes include NASA/AFDD's JUH-60A RASCAL, Boeing's Unmanned Little Bird, and Yamaha's R-MAX helicopter. The unmanned K-Max and Fire Scout are currently deployed in Afghanistan by the US Marines and Navy respectively. This paper provides an overview of historical efforts in applying autonomy to rotorcraft and also discusses current rotorcraft autonomy efforts. Copyright © 2012 by the American Helicopter Society International, Inc. All rights reserved.
Collins, AN; Cummings, ML
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)