Aurora Flight Sciences is developing an unmanned version of the Bell UH-1H 'Huey' helicopter for the rapid delivery of cargo, it disclosed on 10 November.
The Tactical Autonomous Aerial Logistics System (TALOS) that leverages work done on the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) programme will be integrated onto the helicopter to give it an independent obstacle detection and avoidance capability for operating in and out of austere landing sites.
According to Aurora, one of the chief goals of the effort is to have the mission of the unmanned Huey directed by field personnel, such as soldiers, with no previous system training.
On the same day as the announcement of the unmanned Huey concept, Aurora performed the latest of a number of flight trials of the AACUS system aboard a manned Bell 206 JetRanger helicopter. It has previously also been flown on a Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird (ULB). Aurora described the TALOS system as being "platform agnostic", and so able to be integrated aboard any current helicopter type.
A video of the unmanned Huey concept released by Aurora shows it being used as a ship-to-shore replenishment platform for troops in the field, while the company has said that the TALOS system could also be used on manned helicopters as an obstacle warning and avoidance system for pilots.
Aurora expects to demonstrate the TALOS-equipped unmanned Huey helicopter in 2017 or 2018.
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