Sikorsky’s MATRIX™ Technology program is developing systems intelligence that will give operators the ability to fly their large rotorcraft reliably as autonomous or optionally piloted aircraft. MATRIX Technology is like a virtual second pilot that will help operators fly safely and confidently in dangerous and complex missions. The system allows for zero, one or two pilots to operate an aircraft.
MATRIX Technology combines software and hardware components, enabling autonomous, reliable mission execution in obstacle-rich environments. This creates a safer flying experience overall for both military and commercial customers. Sikorsky’s work in autonomy technology spans several aircraft and focus areas.
Expanding the Autonomy Portfolio
Sikorsky’s S-70 Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) Black Hawk is currently executing its flight test program. The UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter was retrofitted with a technology kit to give it full-authority, fly-by-wire flight controls. The envelope has been fully expanded for speed and angle of bank and the team has worked to add additional sensors to the aircraft. Flight testing this year has included supervised autonomy, trajectory following, and obstacle avoidance. In 2021, the OPV Black Hawk will fly completely autonomously – meaning no operator on board – for the first time.
In early 2020 Sikorsky announced a development agreement with Erickson Inc to provide MATRIX technology for installation on an Erickson S-64 helicopter to enhance nighttime firefighting.
Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft (SARA)
MATRIX Technology is installed on the Sikorsky Autonomy Research Aircraft, better known as SARA, a modified S-76B Sikorsky calls a flying lab where MATRIX Technology is tested and matured..
It can leverage full-authority flight control inputs for autonomous flight — including takeoff, route planning, obstacle avoidance, site selection and landing. Sensors give SARA a 3D understanding of its environment in real time.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program is leveraging advances in autonomy to reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance, and improve aircraft safety and reliability. Together with DARPA, Sikorsky is working to improve and expand the capabilities developed through a tailorable autonomy kit for installation in both fixed wing airplanes and helicopters.
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Engineering the Future of Vertical Lift
From the flight of the world's first practical helicopter in 1939, Sikorsky has remained the industry leader through its commitment to innovation, excellence and safety.