DARPA program flies first-ever uninhabited Black Hawk helicopter trialNews
February 08, 2022
U.S. ARMY FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program reported its first-ever flight of a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter without no one onboard.
The Sikorsky-run flight notched 30 minutes of uninhabited flight with the optionally piloted vehicle (OPV) over the U.S. Army installation at Fort Campbell on February 5, 2002; another uninhabited flight was also accomplished on February 7.
DARPA reports that the Black Hawk was retrofitted with autonomous technologies from Sikorsky that form the core of ALIAS, which DARPA describes as a "flexible, extensible automation architecture for existing manned aircraft that enables safe reduced crew operations, which facilitates the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft. It also provides a platform for integrating additional automation or autonomy capabilities tailored for specific missions."
The aim of the ALIAS program, say DARPA officials, is to support execution of an entire mission from takeoff to landing -- including autonomously handling contingency events such as aircraft system failures -- employing easy-to-use interfaces that facilitate supervisor-ALIAS interaction.