TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Air Platform
OBJECTIVE: Develop and demonstrate a high altitude, inexpensive, rapidly disposable, quiet (audible detection of under 150ft), precision air delivery system for small packages (<25lbs in a volume of up to 1.4ft3) that is capable of being deployed from either a door (required method) or ramp (optional method) of a host aircraft to enable rapid resupply of troops supporting combat search and rescue, personnel recovery and special operations in the field at a standoff distance of up to 100 miles. The payloads may contain sensitive electronics such as handheld radios or delicate medical supplies and should be delivered undamaged to a 10ft x 10ft target zone. The system should be able to be deployed from the side door of an aircraft at the operating limits of a C-17 (45,000 ft. and 515 mph).
DESCRIPTION: Users desire a capability to quickly deliver critical supplies to troops in remote and austere locations as well as combat search and rescue and personnel recovery. Current air delivery methods are tailored for large packages (palletized loads), and in contrast, this topic seeks an inexpensive method for precision delivery of smaller packages (<25lbs in a volume of up to 1.4 ft3) from a variety of airborne platforms from (preferably) the side door at the operating limits of a C-17 (45,000 ft. and 515 mph). The system should be capable of delivering the payload to a 10ft x 10ft target zone using soft landing techniques to protect sensitive and delicate payloads. The inexpensive, expendable delivery system should not require aircraft integration and is capable of launching from a variety of military and civilian aircraft both fixed and rotary wing. The system should not require additional tools to install or remove payload items. The system should support rapid destruction and disposal on the ground by the payload recipient (<5 minutes of all airframe components and electronics that could be repurposed or reverse engineered). The system should not require propulsion, but powered options may be explored later in the program to extend the stand-off distance. Additionally, the topic requires delivery of small packages, but higher payloads may be explored later in the program. The system should consist of an air vehicle, deployment device (if required), autopilot, ground control station/programming device, and associated systems to allow safe separation and deployment from a host aircraft from up to 45,000ft and 515mph. The autopilot should provide the ability to set or change the coordinates by loadmasters onboard the aircraft prior to the deployment. The system will not be controlled or updated once launched and does not require anti-jam capabilities. The preferred method is a tube launched style aircraft but the topic is open to new revolutionary ideas.
PHASE I: Proposal must show, as appropriate to the proposed effort, technical feasibility of the underlying technology, understanding and experience with aerial delivery systems, understanding and experience in air vehicle payload development and integration, experience to construction, testing, and delivery of production quality air delivery systems. FEASIBILITY DOCUMENTATION: Offerors interested in submitting a Direct to Phase II proposal in response to this topic must provide documentation to substantiate that the scientific and technical merit and feasibility described has been met and describes the potential commercial applications. The documentation provided must substantiate that the proposer has developed a preliminary understanding of the technology to be applied in their Phase II proposal to meet the objectives of this topic. Documentation should include all relevant information including, but not limited to: technical reports, test data, prototype designs/models, and performance goals/results. Read and follow all of the feasibility documentation portions of the Air Force 19.2 Instructions. The Air Force will not evaluate the offeror’s related D2P2 proposal where it determines that the offeror has failed to demonstrate the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of the Phase I project.
PHASE II: Develop and demonstrate a prototype air delivery system that can deliver small packages (<25lbs in a volume of up to 1.4 ft3) that is capable of being deployed from either a door (required method) or ramp (optional method) of a range of aircraft to enable rapid resupply of troops supporting combat search and rescue, personnel recovery and special operations in the field at a standoff distance of 100 miles. Demonstrate that payloads containing sensitive electronics such as handheld radios or delicate medical supplies and can be delivered undamaged to a 10ft x 10ft target zone. Demonstrate the ability to be safely deployed from the side door of a host aircraft at the operating limits of a C-17 (45,000 ft. and 515 mph). Demonstrate rapid destruction and disposal on the ground by the payload recipient (<5 minutes of all airframe components and electronics that could be repurposed or reverse engineered) of the aircraft. Choose the test aircraft, which can be manned or unmanned, to be representative of the target application. Develop test and safety documentation and support processes for test and safety approvals required for this demonstration. Develop models to evaluate the device/system cost in low rate production.
PHASE III: The contractor will pursue commercialization of the technologies developed in Phase II for potential government and commercial applications. Government applications include delivery of supplies to personnel for disaster recovery and emergency response. There are potential commercial applications in a wide range of diverse fields that include commercial package delivery, medical supply delivery, and recreation.
REFERENCES:1. David Boura, Keith Strang, William Semke, Richard Schultz, and Danny Hajicek. "Automated Air Drop System for Search and Rescue Applications Utilizing Unmanned Aircraft Systems", Infotech@Aerospace 2011, Infotech@Aerospace Conferences; 2. Milgram, J. et al, "Autonomous Glider Systems for Logistics Delivery", Presented at the AUVSI 2003 Unmanned Systems Symposium and Exposition, Baltimore, MD, July 15–17, 2003 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.510.3079&rep=rep1&type=pdf; 3. Rosen, J. (2019). Blood from the sky: an ambitious medical drone delivery system hits Rwanda. [online] MIT Technology Review. Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608034/blood-from-the-sky-ziplines-ambitious-medical-drone-delivery-in-africa/ [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019].; 4. Xu, Jia, Design Perspectives on Delivery Drones. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2017. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1718z2.html.
KEYWORDS: Precision, Aerial, Delivery, Low Cost, Small Payload, Cargo, High Altitude, Resupply