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09 Oct 12. Trimble Introduces Next Generation Software for UAS. Trimble introduced the latest version of its Inpho software at INTERGEO 2012. The new Inpho 5.5 includes UAS data processing and LPMaster, a new software product specifically designed for aerial lidar and imaging data production. According to the company, Inpho 5.5 is specifically designed to manage UAS image characteristics like camera calibration and image qality. LPMaster is a new software product supporting laser data production for the Trimble Harrier aerial lidar and imaging system. According to Trimble, together the software simplifies project setup and data handling. Inpho 5.5 also provides improvements for existing users of old software. In the new version, users can benefit from shorter computation times and higher thoroughput, which are achieved by doubling the number of supported cores. Even large projects are now smoothly displayed, leveraging in-memory patch-ortho-mosaics for premium performance. (Source: AUVSI)

03 Oct 12. ONR Selects Autonomous Cargo Helicopter Program Contractors. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors and Aurora Flight Sciences have been selected as the two contractors that will be pitted against each other in a fly-off for the Office of Naval Research’s AACUS program. The fly-off, scheduled for 18 months from now, will see Lockheed, leveraging its work with Kaman on K-MAX, versus Aurora software, outfitted on a Sikorsky S-76, to prove which is the better option for fully autonomous cargo resupply, called in from a Marine or infantryman with no pilot experience. The AACUS, or Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System, program is the cutting edge of autonomy programs, according to Cummings. The companies will have to create a series of sensors with the quick computational ability to call a vertical-lift aircraft into a potentially hostile environment, determine where to land without operator input and without any hovering, make an angled approach and land with no overhead imagery, get unloaded or loaded by a Marine, then takeoff again, all in about a five minute window of time. Alternately, AACUS may also prove a good option for casualty evacuation. The program is platform-agnostic, says Cummings. The K-MAX and S-76 will just be used for the flight demonstration. The feat will be a challenge both in computation speed and sensing, with each technological hurdle entwined with the other. If the winning concept adheres to ONR’s plans, the system would be able to fly into fire better than a manned aircraft. The scenario is not that different from landing the Mars rover, says Cummings —without the potential enemy fire, of course. Because of this close tie, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is working as a partner with ONR on AACUS. They are both joined by the Army’s Aeroflightdynamics Directorate, which is working to ensure AACUS is platform-agnostic. The Marine Corps is the customer of the AACUS program. This level of autonomy currently does not exist, according to Cummings. The down-select is set to happen after the fly-off, but ONR is leaving open the possibility of moving it to later. The program runs through 2017, with annual demos running until the final review. If AACUS works exactly like ONR plans, the program will be turned over to program partner NAVAIR, which may purchase a number of the systems. Cummings wouldn’t get into detail on Lockheed and Aurora’s concepts, other than to say they are both multisensory. The K-MAX is currently capable of external sling load cargo carrying, and AACUS focuses on internal load carrying. Aurora is a close partner of Sikorsky’s, creating parts for the company’s helicopters. (Source: AUVSI)

05 Oct 12. Northrop Grumman Corporation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center have successfully completed a series of flight demonstrations, moving DARPA’s Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program closer to demonstrating the first autonomous ae

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