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Terminal Guidance for Autonomous Aerial Refueling

Project Mission | Intellectual Property | Project Status | Project Summary (PDF)

PROJECT MISSION

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are serving an ever increasing role in U.S. military operations. There are many reasons why UAVs are becoming the platform of choice over manned air assets for many missions. UAVs can be used to perform dangerous missions that would be too risky with a human pilot and can operate for long durations without concern about pilot fatigue. However, overall mission length is affected by both pilot issues and the need for fuel, the UAV can only carry a certain amount before needing to be refueled. The probe and drogue method has been used successfully to refuel both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles in flight, effectively extending the maximum mission length for these platforms. Typically, refueling of UAVs is done with a human pilot teleoperating the aircraft. However, the long-term goal for UAVs (and the focus of much current research) is to make them operate autonomously. Therefore, there is a need for a system that allows a UAV to autonomously rendezvous with a refueling tanker and then correctly insert the refueling probe into the drogue. Cybernet is building such a system by leveraging our existing visual tracking technologies.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Autonomous UAV Fueling Technology.

PROJECT STATUS

Completed for U.S. Navy / NAVAIR.

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