Boeing [NYSE:BA] has announced its strategic partners for Phase I of the Unmanned Combat Armed Rotorcraft, or UCAR, program.
The team, which will focus on everything from collaborative operations and robotics to en route mission auto routers, has started detailed work on this transformational program. The strategic partners include the following companies and research facilities:
- ALPHATECH (Burlington, Mass.) -- Distributed autonomous cooperative control
- Axiom (Norfolk, Va.) -- Objective Force and joint operations warfighting concepts
- BAe Systems (San Diego) -- Mission planning, automatic re-planner, router
- Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) -- Collaborative robotics, distributed intelligence, stereo vision technology
- Harris Corporation (Melbourne, Fla.) -- Advanced communication, data links, command and control
- New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, N.M.) -- Artificial Intelligence
- Rockwell Scientific (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) -- Advanced sensors, tactical radar and technology assessment
"We chose these team members primarily because of their experience and expertise in diverse technical areas," said Pat O'Neil, UCAR program manager. "They will provide us with the key technologies that will help us achieve our goal of a fully autonomous design."
The Boeing Phantom Works and
Integrated Defense Systems organization are developing UCAR which will be a worldwide rapid response, highly autonomous, survivable and lethal unmanned system fully integrated into the Army's Objective Force combat maneuver force structure. The extremely agile system, which enables ground maneuver force superiority, will be capable of collaborating with multiple UCARs and other manned and unmanned systems. Unlike other unmanned aerial vehicles, however, UCAR will not have a dedicated ground station. Instead, the system will integrate into existing command and control platforms. Capable of autonomous mission planning while in flight, the UCAR will request guidance from a human operator only when necessary.
In May, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the U.S. Army selected Boeing as one of four teams for the initial 12-month concept development and system trades phase of the UCAR program.
During Phase I, Boeing will conduct mission effectiveness and affordability trade studies to develop and optimize an objective system design. After the concept development studies are complete, DARPA will choose two contractors for a nine-month preliminary design phase, followed by a system development phase that will yield two demonstrator vehicles. In the final phase, ending in 2009, the Army will take ownership of the winning platform and begin its system design and development, leading to fielding the system sometime around 2014.
Unmanned Systems is part of the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems organization, one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $23 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.