The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is spearheading the development of a new rotary-wing aircraft software and sensor system that would bring autonomous approaches and landings via manned or unmanned helicopters.
According to ONR, the autonomous aerial cargo/utility system (AACUS) is designed to provide, “autonomous approaches and landings at unprepared landing sites, minimally supervised by field operators with no special training,” for manned or unmanned rotary-wing aircraft.
The AACUS program is a $98-million, five-year effort to provide this autonomous capability to the Marine Corps and Navy and has the potential to make an impact in mission accomplishment. The system is a result of the effort to develop a method, other than convoys or manned helicopters, of delivering supplies to the battlefield safely and expediently.
Lance Cpl. Cody Barss explains how he landed a helicopter utilizing an Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System prototype. Photo by Lance Cpl. Samuel Ellis