A Sikorsky S-76 had just succeeded an autonomous flight of approximately 50 kilometres between the headquarters of the manufacturer of helicopter, Stratford in Connecticut and airport Robertson of Plainville.
In 2016, to fly a helicopter “drone” has nothing of a technological feat: the military use for years in Afghanistan. Europe is also this automation of the helicopters even though it is not yet marketed for civil helicopters. Yet the Matrix technology experienced by Sikorsky for the DARPA may well revolutionize the helicopter flight training.
Objective of the program ALIAS: transform the UAV helicopters
Named SARA (for Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft), the S-76 looks like all other copies of this medium helicopter, if sensors which it is covered on all sides. This testing machine is used by the American manufacturer search ALIAS (Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System) program funded by DARPA. US defence to spent $ 8 million in phase 1 of can be programmed in order to droniser a civilian helicopter, the S-76 and a type Black Hawk military helicopter. The Matrix technology is not only to transform into a drone any type of helicopter, but allow a pilot to control it from an application on tablet. The device keeps its classic commands but the pilot may elect to leave the handle to the automation and merely to designate the destination of the flight on its digital tablet. The helicopter will then only take off, browse the flight plan and land at destination. The driver can at any time modify the flight plan.
This technology has been dubbed Matrix. The flight of May 23, 2016, between Stratford and Plainville has demonstrated the relevance of the concept, has yet to develop, improve the mobile app and make it portable to other devices. DARPA has to allocate $ 9.8 million for Sikorsky to carry out the second phase of the programme. The approach of Sikorsky, a subsidiary of industry giant Lockheed Martin, converges surprisingly with the concept of the drone with passenger by Chinese Ehang – also controlled by a digital Tablet if you can even call this fly.
Source : “Sikorsky Successfully Completes DARPA ALIAS Phase 1 Competition with Autonomous Flight”, Lockheed-Martin press release, May 24, 2016