> our title:

Sikorsky Plans UGV Delivery by Unmanned Helo

> original title:

Sikorsky Aircraft to Develop Autonomous Black Hawk for Cargo Missions

(Source: Sikorsky Aircraft; issued May 13, 2014)


ORLANDO, Fla. --- Sikorsky Aircraft announced today from the AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference that it will develop its first product to feature Matrix™ Technology, by converting a retired UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter into an optionally piloted variant capable of a wide spectrum of missions. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

With the autonomous Black Hawk, Sikorsky plans to build on the success of its Matrix Technology and Manned/Unmanned Resupply Aerial Lifter (MURAL) autonomy programs to deliver a new level of mission flexibility to combat and logistic planners. The product will integrate autonomy and advanced fleet management technology with refurbishment experience to provide a cost-effective, dependable and sustainable system.

The autonomous Black Hawk helicopter will offer the flexibility of internal and external cargo capability, the strength to lift up to 9,000 pounds, and the productivity of high cruise speeds. The design is targeting a system loss rate of one per 100,000 flight hours.

"The autonomous Black Hawk will provide affordable, reliable, high-speed resupply to the warfighter in the harshest conditions at a cost per ton mile that competes with ground convoys," said Mark Miller, vice president of Research & Engineering.

Design of a prototype system has been underway for more than a year, and induction of the first Black Hawk helicopter will begin later this month. Sikorsky will conduct a series of technology maturation tests during the build period using the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA), which is based on an S-76 commercial helicopter.

"While today we are announcing the creation of a proof-of-concept aircraft, Sikorsky is already prepared to ramp up system conversions per year as demand requires," said Samir Mehta, Sikorsky's president of Defense Systems & Services. "We are considering potential development partners and look forward to working with the Department of Defense and other customers to mature this concept and its associated operations."

In collaboration with the U.S. Army, Sikorsky successfully demonstrated the ability of a UH-60M Upgrade Optionally Piloted Black Hawk helicopter to conduct autonomous flight and autonomous cargo resupply demonstrations through its MURAL Program earlier this year.

For the past year, Sikorsky has been aggressively advancing helicopter autonomous flight with its Matrix Technology program. The Matrix test aircraft, SARA, has conducted continuous flight testing to increase capabilities, adding advanced perception flights to its latest phase of envelope expansion. (ends)


Sikorsky and National Robotics Engineering Center Partner for Matrix Application to Demonstrate U.S. Army Autonomous UGV Delivery

(Source: Sikorsky Aircraft; issued May 13, 2014)

STRATFORD, CT. --- Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. today announced it has won a significant demonstration project with the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) of Carnegie Mellon University to demonstrate an autonomous delivery of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) by an Optionally Piloted Black Hawk helicopter enabled with Matrix Technology.

The UGV will subsequently execute a mission to investigate a potentially contaminated area, while keeping human personnel out of harm’s way. Sikorsky Aircraft is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

The project is an 18-month program sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center (TARDEC) through the Robotics Technology Consortium. The NREC-led “Extending the Reach of the Warfighter Through Robotics” effort launched in March and will culminate with a final demonstration in September 2015.

“This mission execution will demonstrate how the technology will eliminate warfighter exposure to hazardous materials and threat of attack. It is another exciting opportunity for Sikorsky to highlight the application and value of Matrix Technology in diverse platforms with different autonomy applications, and we are excited to be working with the world-renowned NREC to offer the U.S. Army this unique collaborative capability,” said Chris VanBuiten, vice president of Technology & Innovation.

The NREC is providing the UGV, a modified Land Tamer all-terrain vehicle which uses key elements of several NREC world-class autonomy systems to support on-road and off-road autonomous exploration. The team of unmanned ground and air vehicles will autonomously survey sites with suspected chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear contamination.

“Sikorsky is aggressively investing in and developing its autonomy applications with an eye toward the future products that will carry this technology and the capabilities they deliver,” said Mark Miller, vice president of Research & Engineering. “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.”

Sikorsky will deploy its platform-agnostic Matrix technology on a U.S. Army UH-60MU Black Hawk helicopter, working jointly with the Utility Helicopter Program Office, and the 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). The aircraft is a Government Furnished Equipment provided by U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD). The same aircraft was recently used to conduct an optionally-piloted and autonomous cargo-delivery demonstration under the ADD/Sikorsky MURAL Optionally Piloted Black Hawk Program.

Sikorsky introduced its Matrix Technology in July 2013 to develop, test and field systems and software that will improve significantly the capability, reliability and safety of flight for autonomous, optionally piloted, and piloted vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Matrix aims to give rotary and fixed wing VTOL aircraft a high level of system intelligence needed to complete complex missions with minimal human oversight and at low altitudes where obstacles abound.


Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in aircraft design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high-technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.

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