AFRL to highlight innovative weapons, UAS technology and AFWERX at AUVSI XPONENTIAL
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory will showcase programs and technologies in several areas including weapons and unmanned aerial systems, plus avenues for sharing ideas or capabilities with the lab during the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) XPONENTIAL in Orlando, Florida, April 25-28, 2022.
AFRL supports both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, seamlessly working high priority research areas across the lab, meeting operational needs and delivering warfighting technologies to Airmen and Guardians.
AFRL Autonomy Technical Adviser Jean-Charles Ledé will speak on a panel titled ‘Air Force Partnerships on Future of Advanced Air Mobility and Autonomy’ on April 27 from 4 to 4:45 p.m. EST with Lt. Col. Tom Meagher, AFWERX Prime division chief and Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, the director of NASA Aeronautics Research Institute.
“The growth in urban air mobility will necessitate significant advances in autonomy, assisting less experienced pilots flying in a complex environment along with autonomous functions to support air traffic management,” said Ledé. “These needs are very well aligned with Air Force needs for managing the airspace and flying aircraft in dangerous areas, and represent great opportunities for joint efforts with industry. AFRL stands ready to support with technical expertise and cutting-edge capabilities.”
The discussion will be moderated by Darshan Divakaran, AFWERX Senior Manager, Strategic Innovation and Partnerships.
“Through strategic public-private partnerships and innovative programs, AFWERX is ensuring innovative technologies like electric vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts are successful in both military and commercial markets,” said Divakaran.
Golden Horde, one of the Department of the Air Force’s Vanguard programs, will be featured at the AFRL booth. Vanguards represent high-priority initiatives led by a partnership between scientists, engineers and program executive offices where these groups join forces and work closely with warfighters to deliver advanced capabilities on aggressive timelines.
Golden Horde, a series of networked, collaborative, autonomous weapon demonstrations, is creating an integrated system of systems where weapons autonomously work together to increase survivability and lethality. The program team, which successfully demonstrated swarms of integrated weapons that share data and execute coordinated behaviors, is developing a multi-tier digital weapon ecosystem with a live, virtual and constructive testing and demonstration capability known as the Golden Horde Colosseum.
In the area of unmanned aerial vehicle technology, AFRL will showcase its latest innovation within the Air Launched Off-Board Operations or ALOBO program, a versatile tube-launched UAV providing increased optics abilities in austere conditions. ALOBO focuses on developing small unmanned aircraft systems that can be launched from larger host aircraft while in flight. These systems, such as the Tactical Offboard Sensing or TOBS, extend the mission reach and capabilities of host vehicles.
In addition to programs and technologies, AFRL will also highlight its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM outreach challenge known as Sky Dreamer, which uses a heavy-lift drone to engage students in real-world Air Force mission scenarios. This challenge enables students to develop skills and applications such as computer-aided design, prototype and manufacturing, payload and sensor integration and flight testing, all of which will help prepare them for future careers in STEM fields.
Connecting with AFRL
AFRL will also highlight various avenues for connecting with the lab at its booth including AFWERX, SpaceWERX and the Tech Connect website. AFWERX, part of AFRL and the innovation arm of the DAF, transitions agile, affordable and accelerated capabilities by teaming innovative technology developers with Airmen and Guardian talent. Such teaming occurs across academia, industry, investment, interagency and international partners to expand technology, identify talent and transition dual-use capabilities.
AFWERX’s Agility Prime program will be on display along with an electric powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) virtual reality simulator and model from partners Talyn Air and Elroy Air to illustrate how AFWERX is partnering with commercial industry to fast-track air mobility systems. AFWERX Agility Prime is the U.S. Air Force’s transformative electric vertical lift aircraft program, which seeks to accelerate emerging dual-use vertical lift markets for rapid and affordable development.
On behalf of AFWERX Agility Prime, Sterling Alley will discuss the progress toward autonomous flight on a ‘Vertical Flight Society’ panel April 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. EST with eVTOL operators and regulators from Columbia Helicopters, UPS Flight Forward and NASA Langley.
Also on April 26, from 3:15 p.m. – 4 p.m EST is the panel: The Value and Requirements for Autonomy in AAM – featuring AFWERX’s Darshan “Dash” Divakaran, Senior Manager, Strategic Innovation and Partnerships as moderator. This session will be an interactive panel with academic, government and industry experts. And, it will explore the value of urban and advanced air mobility and the requirements that need to be met before users can trust autonomy.
SpaceWERX, the U.S. Space Force-affiliated arm of the AFWERX team, focuses on advancing innovative technologies for USSF Guardians and expanding the space industrial space by guiding additional partners, leveraging commercial investment and rapidly pursuing new technologies, while closely aligning its efforts with space operators and acquisition professionals within the USSF.
Meanwhile, innovators who would like to share ideas with AFRL, are encouraged to visit the Air Force and Space Force Tech Connect website, a portal where users can submit ideas and capabilities with AFRL subject matter experts for potential feedback, collaborations and opportunities. Individuals can also learn about science and technology challenges, grants and other opportunities by visiting the website.
For more information about the 2022 AUVSI XPONENTIAL, please visit https://www.xponential.org/xponential2022/