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Saturday, March 6th, 2021

DARPA autonomous flight system tested

© DARPA

The U.S. Army recently tested a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – developed autonomous flight system designed to deliver advances from unmanned aircraft to piloted aircraft via innovative interfaces.

During the demonstration, the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) enabled the pilot to conduct a series of realistic missions, including aircrew tasks such as low-level terrain flight, confined area takeoffs and landings, landing zone selection, trajectory planning, and wire-obstacle avoidance.

“Hovering in adverse winds is a task that consumes a human pilot’s attention, but automated flight control achieves rock steady precision,” Graham Drozeski, the DARPA program manager for ALIAS, said. “Really, we want the pilot’s eyes and mind on the fight, rather than holding an altitude. That’s the core focus of ALIAS: bringing the latest advances from unmanned aircraft into a piloted aircraft through an interface that provides fluid interaction with the autonomous capabilities.”

Engineers developing ALIAS have begun to integrate the system into a UH-60 Black Hawk for testing and flight demonstration in 2019. As the biggest fleet of aircraft in the Army and widely relied on by the Department of Defense, the Black Hawk is the ideal platform for ALIAS to benefit service partners quickly.

“We’ve chosen the Black Hawk as the platform we want to demonstrate full integration of ALIAS-type capabilities – all the circuit breakers and switches and instruments in the aircraft so that the capability ALIAS provides to a crew member is really like a co-pilot,” Drozeski said. “It can fly routes, plan routes, execute emergency procedures and do all that perfectly.”