Flight tests have recently taken place of a new unmanned system designed to deliver humanitarian supplies to areas affected by natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. The trials, in the Dominican Republic, involve the Autonomous Rotorcraft Test bed for Intelligent Systems (SuperARTIS) helicopter operated by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft- und Raumfahrt, or DLR), the Dutch Wings for Aid Foundation and the United Nations World Food Programme.
The tests examined an unmanned system’s ability to cost-effectively, quickly and safely deliver emergency supplies to isolated disaster areas instead of crewed aircraft, helicopters and boats. Biodegradable cardboard boxes were used to drop supplies. These boxes feature aerodynamic surfaces that deploy automatically during a drop to limit the box’s descent speed and stabilise its trajectory during its descent to the ground after release from the UAV. Recent initial tests of the SuperARTIS system in Germany showed the application was technically feasible and the Dominican Republic tests were intended to identify mission scenarios to evaluate the technology in realistic applications.
DLR Project Leader Johann Dauer of the DLR’s Institute of Flight Systems said these tests evaluated how unmanned technologies could improve the efficiency and practicality of humanitarian logistics. Mark Broadbent