Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sikorsky uses tablet to complete autonomous flight

Test pilots for Sikorsky recently used tablets to fly one of the firm’s S-76 commercial helicopters, part of a Pentagon look at installing autonomous, or self-piloting, systems into existing helicopter models.
The chopper flew from the company’s Stratford, Conn., facility to Robertson Airport in Plainville, Conn. — a distance of about 30 miles — in January, a press release from the firm said. Pilots used a tablet to load the flight plan and initiate take-off, leaving system software to handle the flight controls and make adjustments.
The test completes the $8 million first phase of an autonomous cockpit program run by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Dubbed the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit System, or ALIAS, program, it aims to fit autonomous systems into existing helicopter models such as the company’s UH-60 Black Hawk. Pilots and trainers would have the option of using the system instead of flying the aircraft manually.  more