First Flight — True UAV Autonomy At Last


July 2004 – In a world first, truly autonomous, Intelligent Agent-controlled flight was achieved today by a Codarra ‘Avatar’ unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).The flight tests were conducted in restricted airspace at the Australian Army’s Graytown Range about 60 miles north of Melbourne, Australia.

The Avatar was guided by JACK™ which directed the aircraft’s autopilot during the course of the mission.

The on-board JACK™ agent chose the best route to fly after evaluating real-time flight and weather data accessed through a direct link to the autopilot and its GPS (Global Positioning System). The agent was constantly updated with the Avatar’s position, air speed, ground speed and drift so it could intelligently pick the best route to take.The successful first flight, undertaken by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and JACK™ software developers at AOS, convincingly demonstrated both in-flight Intelligent Agent control of the aircraft and fully autonomous mission selection capabilities.

This groundbreaking achievement is of great significance to UAV operators and manufacturers worldwide. It shows that UAVs can now autonomously re-plan and execute missions without ground operator intervention. This opens the door to enormous savings in operational costs and manpower requirements.“Today’s successful flight of the Avatar, controlled by Intelligent Agent software, signifies a new age in unmanned vehicle operations,” said Dr Andrew Lucas, Agent Oriented Software CEO. “Instead of the current situation where 10 personnel are required to support one medium UAV, we are looking forward with confidence to the day where a team of 10 UAVs could be controlled by one operator.”

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