The Office of Naval Research’s Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) program is developing an autonomous capability for landing a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in an unprepared landing zone selection with goal-based supervisory control by field personnel with no special training. AACUS capabilities are to include the rapidly responding to requests for support in all weather conditions, to be able to be launched from sea and land, to fly in high and hot environments, and to autonomously detect and negotiate precision landing zones in potentially hostile settings, which could require significant obstacle avoidance and aggressive maneuvering in the descent-to-land phase. The core of the AACUS effort is the development of technology that affords autonomous obstacle and threat avoidance and unprepared landing zone selection, with autonomous precision landing capabilities including contingency management until the point of landing.
JPL is supporting the Lockheed Martin Corporation (prime contractor) in the development of algorithms for identifying potential landing areas, and for estimating the safety of these landing areas based on sensor data uncertainty and algorithmic uncertainty.
Curtis Padgett - Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Office of Naval Reseaerch (ONR)