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The industry is finding all kinds of new applications and ventures that can use the devices’ unique abilities. The US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) has recently demonstrated initial capabilities of an unmanned air refuelling system to limit helicopters’ time on the ground and remove soldiers from isolated fuelling stations.
According to shepardmedia.com, the demonstration revealed a new science and technology effort, the Autonomous and Robotic Remote Refuelling Point (AR3P).
By using self-aligning robotics and sensors, the system can support a quick hook-up, ultimately reducing the receiving aircraft’s time on the ground. The robotic system can also increase safety by removing soldiers from the fuelling station. The development uses an isolated forward arming and refuelling point approach to provide an autonomous, unmanned refuelling capability using existing technologies.
The technology includes aviation ground support equipment, sensors, energy efficient sustainment equipment, aircraft components with minor modifications and aircraft refuelling interfaces and equipment.
A majority of the robotic package is made out of commercial off-the-shelf materials, but the fuel port system is an AMRDEC-designed solution.
Currently, the project is addressing technical risk areas and hopes to establish a framework for future funding. The next phase will see modifications and flight testing of a Mosquito Test aircraft, while the final phase will feature a flight test of an Apache AH-64.