US Army pilots fly Sikorsky helicopter to demonstrate decision-making technology

US Army pilots have announced they have exercised supervised autonomy to demonstrate technology developed by Lockheed Martin company Sikorsky and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the company said.

Army pilots will direct an optionally-piloted helicopter (OPV) through a series of missions to demonstrate the Sikorsky technology. The series of flights marked the first time that non-Sikorsky pilots operated the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), a modified S-76B commercial helicopter, as an OPV aircraft.

Sikorsky is developing autonomous and optionally-piloted technology that will ultimately decrease instances of the number one cause of helicopter crashes: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT). Sikorsky is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the technology so that it will be available on current and future commercial and military aircraft. Photo courtesy DARPA.

Through the DARPA ALIAS program, Sikorsky is developing an OPV approach it describes as pilot-directed autonomy that will give operators the confidence to fly aircraft safely, reliably and affordably in optimally piloted modes enabling flight with two, one or zero crew. The program will improve operator decision aiding for manned operations while also enabling both unmanned and reduced crew operations.

Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.