The Evolution of the K-MAX Cargo UAS Technology

The Evolution of the K-MAX Cargo UAS Technology

Responding to the U.S. Marine Corps Needs

The U.S. Marine Corps called upon the K-MAX unmanned cargo helicopter in 2011 to reduce the number of truck resupply convoys and their troop escorts, protecting troops as they were frequent targets of improvised explosive devices and insurgent attacks. K-MAX, the first unmanned helicopter to deliver cargo in theater was recently extended indefinitely to support the USMC in Afghanistan.



Harvesting Technology: ATUAS


Because of its payload lift capacity, reliability and affordability, K-MAX offers an ideal unmanned platform for development and testing of autonomous technologies. As the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate focused on advancing its capabilities with the Autonomous Technologies for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (ATUAS) contract, K-MAX demonstrated multiple capabilities that are vehicle agnostic. They can be applied to a variety of manned and unmanned assets.




Future Applications and Beyond


The increased intelligence on board K-MAX is due to the Lockheed Martin OPTIMUS suite of mission systems and sensors that provides advanced mission planning. The Office of Naval Research tested this capability under the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) contract, culminating in a demonstration in March 2014 where the mission system navigated a landing in an unprepared environment using its enhanced visual aids. Lockheed Martin OPTIMUS could be adapted for numerous legacy and future assets for manned and unmanned missions.


Both the mission system on board and the K-MAX platform could add value to forestry, construction, pipelining and firefighting missions because it can work day and night, reach areas without improved roads and provide situational awareness to its operators.