Sikorsky tests unmanned ground vehicle with unmanned Black Hawk

For the joint autonomy demonstration, an unmanned Black Hawk helicopter transported the unmanned ground vehicle to its mission area.
By Ryan Maass  |  Jan. 20, 2016 at 2:34 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, partnered with Carnegie Mellon University for a joint autonomy demonstration involving an unmanned ground vehicle and an unmanned Black Hawk helicopter.

During the demonstration, a UH-60MU Black Hawk was equipped with Sikorsky's Matrix Technology, and was used to transport CMU's Land Tamer autonomous unmanned ground vehicle to its mission area. Those involved in the demonstration say these missions can help prevent exposing warfighters to hazardous conditions.

"The teaming of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles, as demonstrated here, has enormous potential to bring the future ground commander an adaptable, modular, responsive and smart capability that can evolve as quickly as needed to meet a constantly changing threat," U.S. Army Tank Automative Research, Development and Engineering Center director Paul Rogers said in a statement.

The U.S. Army provided the Black Hawk helicopter for the demonstration, which was then modified with Sikorsky's Matrix equipment to give the aircraft unmanned aerial vehicle capabilities. The Matrix Technology was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving the reliability and safety of autonomous and optionally piloted aircraft.

CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center developed the unmanned ground vehicle used in the demonstration. NREC technical project manager Jeremy Searock says researchers demonstrated new capabilities by using unmanned air and ground platforms together.

"The helicopter provides long-range capability and access to remote areas, while the ground vehicle has long endurance and high-precision sensing," Searock said.

The unmanned Black Hawk flew a 12-mile route with the ground vehicle before releasing it. Once on the ground, the UGV traveled a six-mile course, using its sensors to detect hazards and relaying information to a remote ground station.

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