Autonomous Flight

“Think For Yourself”

Autonomous Flight Isn’t Science Fiction

Consider for a moment what it takes to deliver critical supplies, such as food and medicine, to a remote village in a country divided by civil unrest. It’s not as simple as flying from A to B. There’s high potential for surprise—everything from an encounter with hostile combatants to a sudden change in approach can occur. Unexpected variables abound, and decisions must be made and executed in real time, without fear or hesitation, to ensure success. But what if the greatest variable in a mission—the human element—can be supported, if not replaced, by the same level of rational, high-level decision making? What if you can develop a platform that can observe, orient, decide and act on multiple issues simultaneously?

UTRC’s autonomy platform is capable of doing just that, allowing for the development of vertical take-off aircraft that think on their own. The platform employs advanced sensing technologies, algorithms and human-machine interaction systems to make hundreds of necessary real-time decisions and successfully traverse every obstacle encountered. This platform is not limited to aerospace alone, as it has the potential to address challenges in a variety of civilian and military markets, including building security and robotics for situation evaluation and disaster zone repair.

Advanced Capabilities

Advanced Algorithms for Perception and Management: These individual applications within the platform’s architecture simultaneously perform all the high-level thinking required to complete a mission, based on pre-determined mission data and events that occur during the flight. These include obstacle avoidance, landing selection and other top-level commands.

Human-Machine Interaction: Challenges identified and addressed in autonomous systems include the level of autonomy—such as where, when and if a human controller needs to be involved—and how to best provide the critical information to the controller for rapid evaluation and reaction.

Sensing: The advanced sensing technology provides constant, real-time information crucial to the platform’s decision-making functions. Data collected is evaluated and compared to the mission plan, and includes changing spatial information provided by visible or infrared sensors, as well as radar and lidar.