Tomorrow's Tech: Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System

Tomorrow's Tech: Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System image
August 24, 2015 | Source: Cmdr. Max Snell (Ret), USN, & Col J. Kevin Dodge (Ret.), USMC, Naval Science & Technology Future Force

The alarm on Staff Sgt. Stone’s handheld device went off, indicating it was 0545. He’d already been awake for at least 15 minutes thinking about all the things he had to do today. His biggest concern was whether or not battalion was going to be able to deliver much-needed supplies to their outpost. His company was getting critically low on water, ammo, and batteries, and deliveries had been canceled for the past three days because of high winds and low visibility. Today, the weather forecast was still marginal with visibility in and out, but the winds seemed to have abated some and he was hoping the air wing would be able to fly. Stone threw on his cammies, grabbed his weapon, and headed to chow. His handheld vibrated as he was sipping his coffee; he had a message from battalion reporting that an AACUS-configured CH-53K Super Stallion would be arriving at 0930 with the company’s supplies.

Stone sat back and thought to himself. AACUS? Oh yeah, the Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System developed to improve logistics support. It was a new piece of equipment fielded by the composite squadron and now in theater for the first time. He’d received about 30 minutes of training on the AACUS application installed on his handheld. He launched the AACUS app, and it provided confirmation of delivery and an updated ETA of 0935. He knew that AACUS kits were installed in a couple of CH-53Ks, enabling the “Kilos” to fly without pilots if needed because of adverse weather or other threat conditions. Stone had yet to see AACUS in action and was curious to see how things would turn out, but he was also anxious to get the critical supplies the company desperately needed.