DARPA robotic co-pilot will fly Blackhawk Helicopters in 2019

A pilot flew a helicopter with supervised autonomy in an aircraft with DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS).

Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System provides flexible automation architecture for existing aircraft to increase mission effectiveness and enable safe, reduced crew operations.

Robotic aircraft systems can take on the role of a traditional co-pilot.

Now in Phase 3, the Sikorsky 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, Drozeski said the Black Hawk is the ideal platform for ALIAS to quickly benefit service partners.

“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,” said Drozeski. “It can fly routes, plan routes, execute emergency procedures, and do all that perfectly.”

Highlights of ALIAS’ flexible architecture include:

The potential for integration onto multiple fixed and rotary-wing platforms, both military and commercial;
Cockpit displays and human interfaces that support reduced workload and/or reduced crew, as well as improved safety, such as terrain avoidance;
Full coverage of typical aircrew tasks and emergency procedures;
The ability to integrate directly with existing air vehicle systems, subsystems, and mission payloads;
Redundancy and software assurance to support certification for human occupancy; and
The ability to rapidly integrate new applications including third-party algorithms and applications onto existing aircraft.