April 08, 2014

K-MaxAccording to a recent press release, Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy have partnered to successfully demonstrate Lockheed Martin OPTIMUS mission system’s ability to accomplish an autonomous approach and landing in an unprepared environment aboard unmanned helicopters.

The Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) was tested aboard the Navy’s K-MAX unmanned helicopter and can be applied to current and future helicopters and rotary wing aircraft. During the demonstration, an active duty Marine interfaced with the mission system’s handheld flight control device to complete a resupply mission. The system successfully planned, routed and executed the mission without requiring user input.

Roger Il Grande, director of Airborne Systems Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business, says in the release, “The Lockheed Martin OPTIMUS suite of systems and sensors use an open architecture positioned for Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) compliance, which applies and adapts both legacy and future mission systems to airborne assets. As we continue to operate on a fast-moving battlefield, additional mission modules can be added or removed without costly overhauls to the system, providing an advanced, flexible capability for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.”

Matthew Klunder, chief of Naval Research, says the sensor and software pack is "truly leap-ahead technology" that allows a Marine with no flight experience to issue landing instructions to a cargo helicopter via tablet computer after just a few minutes of training.

These successful software tests move the Navy closer to giving troops a simple tool for battlefield resupply, significantly reducing the risk of casualties when traditional food, water, and weapons convoys are used to transport goods.

Image credit: usnavyresearch

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