Paris Air Show

Athena control can take a hit and keep going

 - June 20, 2007, 11:02 AM

Athena Technologies (Hall 6, Stand B1/C1), a maker of flight controls for unmanned aerial vehicles, successfully demonstrated a “damage tolerant” automatic control system and autonomous landing capabilities on a scale model of an Boeing F/A-18 powered by a turbojet engine, the company announced.

Sponsored by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the demo was held in April and disclosed here yesterday. A video showed the small UAV taking off from a runway at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and, after making what appeared to be series of evasive maneuvers, receiving damage to its right aileron. The control surface in fact was “ejected” from the model to simulate battle damage.

Fitted with Athena’s INS/GPS onboard autonomous landing system, the UAV landed within a few feet of its target touchdown point. The objective of the test, according to Athena, was to prove that adaptive flight controls could regain control after a UAV sustains in-flight damage.