Mansur garnered an Outstanding Achievement Award for his work on the K-MAX unmanned helicopter system from
"The need is re-supplying forward operating points without having to put convoys on the road and exposing them to [improvised explosive devices]," said Mansur, who works for the
Mansur said the greatest challenge was developing the system for the high-altitude, high-turbulence and high-wind environments that the helicopter would face in
During his two years of work, the project emerged from a developmental program, to demonstration flight tests and finally to deployment in theater with the
"Even though the aircraft is flying autonomously, a pilot was on board [during flight tests] to control the aircraft if the control laws were not doing what they were supposed to do. Their comments were: 'The aircraft flies the way I would.' It's the best comment you can get from a flight-test pilot," he said.
Whalley won an Outstanding Technical Leadership Award for guiding a government-contractor team that developed software algorithms for low-altitude autonomous flight operations. The work concentrated on obstacle field navigation and safe landing area determination.
"With any helicopter, the strength of that platform is the ability to hover and operate in close proximity to the ground or obstacles," said Whalley, also with
In 2011, the software algorithms were validated and further developed into commercial software libraries and distributed under a technology transfer agreement. Whalley and his team then demonstrated the scalability of the technologies and software by migrating the algorithms to AMRDEC's full-authority JUH-60A Black Hawk helicopter for flight testing.
"We showed that the same approach could be used at full scale that had been successful at model scale," he said.
Whalley and Mansur have shared contributions during their 30-year careers as engineers in Army aviation. They also began their journeys together in the early 1980s.
They each earned a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in 1984. In 1987, they earned master of science degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from
"Hossein and I were both hired on the same day --
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