They were to remain in Afghanistan for six weeks assessment, K-MAX helicopters robotic there were virtually three years. Designed to transport goods to the Allied bases to replace convoys victims buried explosives gear, the two drones sent into a war zone have demonstrated their effectiveness in delivering more than 2 million tonnes of cargo. At the end of the deployment, a K-MAX can carry more than 13 tonnes in 6 mission that day. The robot was convincing and as part of this research program AACUS, the American military is already thinking about the next generation of helicopter transport robot.
A program launched emergency for the Marines in Afghanistan
Developed by Lockheed Martin based on the flying Kaman K-1200 K-MAX crane, the proposed drone transport dates back to 2010 when the Navy was seeking a solution to supply the Marines based in Afghanistan without risking the life of a soldier in truck convoys or helicopters piloted. On one side Oshkosh Corporation then develops an autonomous truck, Terramax and Lockheed Martin K-MAX helicopter this. It is the latter who will know the first battlefields of Afghanistan as it will be nearly 3 years that it makes logistical rotations on behalf of the Allies. The two machines have thus produced 1950 outputs, delivered 2,000,000 tons of goods. One has been damaged during a hard landing but the second showed an availability rate was around 94%. Nevertheless, the Wired article points out that one hour still requires 1.4 hours of maintenance.
The experiment is successful for the K-MAX, but the Autonomous Utility System (AACUS) program Aerial Cargo / from the Navy and he is the offspring is far from complete.
The AACUS research program continues
As the video search service of the Navy points out, the technology developed can be installed on several types of existing helicopters (including the smaller Boeing H-6U Little Bird).
Furthermore, it is relatively simple to operate. The soldier simply means the landing area on the map displayed by his tablet computer. The helicopter is equipped with a LIDAR allowing it, once arrived at the designated area to pick himself more precisely where it will land.
If K6MAX returned home, the AACUS program continues. A UH-60A Blackhawk will be equipped to turn because right now the K-MAX and its little brother the Little Bird still require an operator to control their flight distance. The next phases of the program should see BATTERIES algorithms flights are much more developed to allow the drone to fly in the mountains independently. The first tests were conducted with a Blackhawk. The research program will continue until 2017 we will see which of the Navy or Amazon will be the first to have a fully autonomous helicopter drone operating system. For now, the military has taken the lead.
Translation : Google Translate
“Military Ponders Future of Robotic Cargo Movers”, NationalDefense, August 2014
“Robocopters Haul Tons of Stuff in Afghanistan, Return Home Victorious”, IEEESpectrum, July 31, 2014
“The Marines’ Self-Flying Chopper Survives a Three-Year Tour”, Wired, July 30, 2014