Sikorsky partners with startup Rain to remove pilots from firefighting helicopters

Oct. 6, 2023
The Lockheed Martin-owned helicopter manufacturer will allow Rain to install autonomous systems on board its optionally-piloted Black Hawk.

ALAMEDA, Calif., - In Maui, firefighting pilots came to the rescue when wildfires decimated the Hawaiian island last month. But they could soon face stiff competition from autonomous helicopters. Rain, an autonomous aviation startup looking to fight fires with uncrewed aircraft, on Wednesday announced a collaboration with helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky to add the Lockheed Martin subsidiary’s optionally piloted Black Hawk to its fleet. The partnership promises to enable autonomous, rapid response capabilities for aerial wildland firefighting—and reduce the cost of suppressing the blazes, Jack Daleo reports for FlyingContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

6 October 2023 - Rain in Alameda, California, will integrate the MATRIX autonomy suite from Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company in Stratford, Connecticut, into a civilian firefighting version of its Black Hawk helicopter.

“MATRIX executes a full mission plan by taking into account mission goals and constraints, aircraft performance, obstacles, weather, and topography,” said Igor Cherepinsky, Sikorsky Innovations director. “The system is fully integrated with the flight controls, allowing the aircraft to fly with high levels of autonomy in all environmental conditions.”

Rain integrates with early wildfire detection networks to rapidly dispatch autonomous aircraft. Onboard the aircraft, the Rain Wildfire Mission Autonomy System identifies and locates wildfire, develops a suppression strategy, and plans flight path and drop timing to enable on-target delivery of suppressant. Throughout operations, the Wildfire Mission Autonomy System shares intelligence and plans, providing firefighters with situational awareness and oversight of the mission to ensure safety and coordination.

Related: Army orders more UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, avionics, and navigation control in $656.8 million order

Related: Coloradans are developing the state's newest firefighting tool: transforming a Black Hawk into a Firehawk

Related: Civil and commercial operators in the U.S now can purchase new Black Hawk aircraft

Jamie Whitney, Senior Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

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