Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 has recently demonstrated mannedunmanned teaming (MUM-T) with an Airbus Helicopters H145, as the two companies became the first European helicopter manufacturers to demonstrate this technology.
With support from the Austrian Armaments and Defence Technology Agency, the two aircraft jointly flew different MUM-T scenarios at an undisclosed location, including the detection of objects hidden in places not accessible by traditional helicopters.
The S-100 was controlled and piloted by an operator sitting in the H145. During the flights, control was also temporarily handed over to a ground-based control station by the pilot to simulate the return of the manned helicopter for refuelling. The trials went up to the highest level of manned-unmanned interoperability, LOI 5, which allows the manned platform to exercise full control of the unmanned system, including its take-off and landing. LOI 1, the lowest level of interoperability, is the indirect receipt and/or transmission of sensor data obtained by the UAV to the manned aircraft.
Mark R Henning, Programme Manager at Airbus Helicopters, said: “Smaller UAS with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities can, for example, fly around obstacles closer than a helicopter could. They are able to explore unknown territory and deliver information to the helicopter crew that is operating from a safe position and which can then step in …having received a clear picture from the UAS’.
Particular challenges during the test, which Airbus says were “successfully managed”, were data transfer interference and electromagnetic compatibility between the S-100 and H145, and the integration of a complete UAS mission planning and control system into the H145’s architecture. The next step will be to optimise the human machine interface based on a thorough analysis of the crew workload using the results of the flight tests. Mark Broadbent