Helicopter Remote Manipulation of External Slingloads (HERMES)

Period of Performance: 09/22/2006 - 09/22/2008

$730K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Advanced Optical Systems, Inc.
6767 Old Madison Pike
Huntsville, AL 35806
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Helicopter operations in low visibility conditions and sling load operations continue to add risk to aviation operations. If slingloads could be picked up without the need for a ground crew, lives could be saved. In addition, a sensor that can detect the location of a load would help in low visibility conditions. We propose to develop such a system. It will include the mechanical structures necessary for unscrewed operation and automatic electrical grounding of the helicopter, the sensors for locating the loads, and integration in both the helicopter technical systems and operational procedures for acquiring external loads. In this approach, the ground crew will only set the load in place, and ensure the latching mechanism is properly deployed. Our baseline approach is to accommodate existing helicopter hook and sling/clevis technologies, by adding non-load bearing hardware to guide the clevis into the hook. For sensors, use an RF based technology for rough load location through whiteout/brownout conditions, and an optical system for terminal guidance.