Lockheed wins $13.5M contract to make UAVs smarter

An industry team led by Lockheed Martin has won a $13.5 million contract with the Office of Naval Research to explore autonomous technologies aboard an unmanned vertical take-off and landing aircraft.

The company said that the team consists of industry, government and academic partners, but did not disclose specifics.

The contract spans five years. Lockheed Martin and the team will develop a technology that allows for the operation of an aircraft under supervisory control, with a human operator interacting with the system at a high level, and the automation taking care of the low level control

“This contract provides our team the opportunity to demonstrate how far we can expand the technology envelope,” said Roger Il Grande, director of Airborne Systems for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors business.

With this technology, current unmanned aircraft could potentially have greater utility, and become more effective. Lockheed said that it would also be offer pilots supplemental decision aids on legacy manned platforms.

Its first phase lasts 18 months, in which the team will demonstrate the capabilities of its platform-agnostic Open-Architecture Planning and Trajectory Intelligence for Managing Unmanned Systems architecture, better known as OPTIMUS.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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