Robotic Huey Helicopters are on the way

the goal of the futuristic Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program created by Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences is to create robotic Huey helicopters.

The program integrates another Aurora-created system, the tactical autonomous aerial logistics systems, or TALOS, in order to send up helicopters at the request of troops on the ground.

“The primary goal of the AACUS program is to enable rapid cargo delivery by unmanned, and potentially optionally-manned, vertical take-off and landing systems,” the company said in a release Thursday.

Aurora hopes to integrate TALOS and demonstrate it on a Huey in 2017 and 2018, the company said. The Office of Naval Research is funding and sponsoring the program.

“TALOS is not an aircraft, nor is it a robot flying an aircraft – TALOS is transferrable intelligence designed with both manned and unmanned aircraft requirements in mind,” said John Wissler, vice president of Aurora’s research and development center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“The arrival of a Huey as our third test platform frames a key point for future customers – the TALOS system is platform agnostic; you’re not buying a new fleet of helicopters, you’re buying a capability set for your current fleet,” he said.

The TALOS system was previously demonstrated on a Boeing H-6U Unmanned Little Bird flown autonomously, the release said, and also three different human-piloted Bell 206 aircraft; the system can be integrated into any manned or unmanned rotorcraft, according to Flightglobal.

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