Sikorsky Aircraft has collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) national robotics engineering centre (NREC) to demonstrate the autonomous delivery of an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) by a Matrix technology-equipped, optionally piloted US Army UH-60MU Black Hawk (OPBH).
Sponsored by the US Army’s tank automotive research, development and engineering centre (TARDEC) through the Robotics Technology Consortium, the 18-month programme will see the UGV investigate sites with suspected chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) contamination, while keeping human personnel out of danger.
Sikorsky Aircraft Technology & Innovation vice-president Chris VanBuiten said the demonstration is an opportunity for the company to highlight the application and value of Matrix technology in diverse platforms with different autonomy applications.
"This mission execution will demonstrate how the technology will eliminate warfighter exposure to hazardous materials and threat of attack," VanBuiten said.
Sikorsky Aircraft Research & Engineering vice-president Mark Miller said the company is investing in and developing its autonomy applications, with an eye toward the future products that will carry the technology and the capabilities they deliver.
"Matrix is a proven technology built on our existing full authority flight controls system and flown on multiple platforms, and Sikorsky plans to continue leading the way in this aviation frontier and rewriting what rotorcraft can do," Miller said.
The army will provide a UH-60MU Black Hawk for the demonstration, which will be integrated with Matrix technology by Sikorsky, the Utility Helicopter Programme Office, and the Aviation Development Directorate (ADD) under the terms of the manned/ unmanned resupply aerial lifter (MURAL) cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), and the TARDEC/RTC robotics other transaction agreement (OTA).
Meanwhile, NREC will supply the UGV, which is a modified Land Tamer all-terrain vehicle, leveraging key elements of several NREC world-class autonomy systems to support on-road and off-road autonomous exploration.
Matrix technology was launched to develop, test and field systems and software that will improve the capability, reliability and safety of flight for autonomous, optionally piloted and piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The NREC-led ‘extending the reach of the warfighter through robotics’ initiative is scheduled to finish in September 2015.
Image: Sikorsky and NREC will demonstrate an autonomous delivery of an UGV by an OPBH fitted with Matrix technology. Photo: courtesy of the United States Coast Guard.