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Work advancing on autonomous rotorcraft

Aug. 14, 2013 at 3:00 PM   |   Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 14 (UPI) -- UTC Aerospace Systems said it was working with Sikorsky Aircraft to help advance the reliability of autonomous vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

UTC said Wednesday it was taking part in Sikorsky's so-called Matrix Technology program, a system geared toward autonomous flight. Sikorsky this week tested its S-76 research helicopter in an autonomous mode using the technology.

Steve Peery, vice president for engine control systems at UTC, said a derivative of what was used in the S-76 system was employed in a fly-by-wire version of the Black Hawk helicopter. Fly-by-wire technology replaces manual flight control systems with electronic components.

"Having previously used a derivative system on a fly-by-wire Black Hawk helicopter, UTC Aerospace Systems has shown the flight control system could be expanded for the autonomous mission management role," he said in a statement Wednesday.

Aviation Week reports Wednesday the S-76 unmanned helicopter was tested recently with autonomous flights in Florida. Its report said the goal of the Matrix Technology system is to increase the onboard navigation so remote operators can do tasks other than flying the vehicle.

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