SSC Pacific
Autonomous UAV Mission System (AUMS)


AUMS landing on MDARS.The Autonomous UAV Mission System (AUMS) project is working to develop technologies for automated launching, landing, refueling, and rearming of small Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs.)

This effort is sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Robotics Program (JRP).


The iSTAR UAV hovering.The use of UAVs in defense and security applications has increased significantly in recent years. Traditional applications for UAV systems include Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, communication relaying The Helispy UAV flying.and target acquisition. Emerging uses include medical re-supply, border patrol, maritime, security, crowd control, search and rescue, and environmental monitoring.

VTOL UAVs have advantages over fixed-wing UAVs in that they require no runway for takeoff or landing, can hover, and can maneuver in three dimensions. The primary downside to VTOL UAVs is that they have a significantly smaller payload-range than similar-sized fixed-wing UAVs.


AUMS about to launch from MDARS.The technologies being developed under the AUMS project will increase the effective payload-range of VTOL UAVs via automated replenishment. For instance, a UAV can be landed onto an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and be refueled in the operational area, saving the time it would require to transit to a base for refueling.

Teaming of UAVs and UGVs will also allow for cooperative tasking of UAVs and UGVs to perform Mine clearing scenario.complex tasks such as mine clearing. In such an arrangement, the effectiveness of the system is increased by utilizing the strengths of UAVs (fast transit, overhead view, long communications range, ability to travel over poor terrain) and UGVs (large payload, large power supply, long range). Automatically replenishment of UAVs will also reduce the number of personnel required to remain close to the UAV to service it, which will both reduce costs and keep personnel out of harms way.


The second AUMS prototype is designed for the launch, recovery and refueling of the Allied Aerospace 29" iSTAR UAV. There are three main subsystems of the current fixture - the landing platform, the locking/centering mechanisms, and the refueling mechanism.

The landing platform consists of a vented circular plate surrounded by four actuated arms. The arms can be opened nearly flat to create a larger surface area for the iSTAR to land on, and then closed into a tubular shape to center the UAV on the platform and to provide some protection to the UAV during storage.

The iSTAR must be held down securely during launch, refueling and storage. A coupler at the bottom center of the UAV is used as the primary locking mechanism during launch and refueling. At launch, the iSTAR is locked to the platform until it is producing full thrust and then the coupling is released.

After landing, the center latch mechanism rises up to attach to the coupling on the iSTAR. The center mechanism has a self-aligning mechanism that accommodates the UAV being slightly off-center on the launch pad. Additional mechanisms are being designed to aid in centering the iSTAR on the landing platform and to hold the iSTAR securely during storage.

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Updated: 10/19/2011 10:15 AM EST   Published (1.0)