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HomeTechnologyUnpiloted military helicopter flies 134 km in simulated mission

Unpiloted military helicopter flies 134 km in simulated mission


A retrofitted Black Hawk helicopter flew autonomously between mountains to ship blood provides in a simulated mission. It additionally picked up a simulated medical casualty



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2 November 2022


A US army helicopter managed completely by a flight laptop flew low and quick by way of a valley whereas making a 134-kilometre demonstration flight to ship blood provides.

A separate check flight confirmed how the autonomous model of a Black Hawk helicopter might additionally choose up multiple tonne of cargo slung beneath its stomach and even change flight paths to select up a model standing in for a wounded soldier. The flight demonstrations passed off throughout an train in October.

“It’s a very autonomous system,” stated Igor Cherepinsky at Sikorsky Improvements, the plane producer that produces the Black Hawk, at a press convention. “When you clarify what the mission is, you don’t even want a knowledge hyperlink – the plane makes all the choices.”

This was the newest milestone in a US Protection Superior Analysis Tasks Company program known as ALIAS that’s testing Sikorsky’s MATRIX expertise – a drop-in equipment that may convert helicopters into plane that fly autonomously. The primary, shorter flight assessments with none people on board passed off in February.

“I feel it’s a big leap from the prior workouts and experiments the place there was nonetheless a pilot onboard,” says Stacie Pettyjohn on the Heart for New American Safety, a nationwide safety suppose tank in Washington DC. “Eighty miles is a reasonably vital distance.”

A Black Hawk helicopter flying autonomously

A Black Hawk helicopter flying autonomously

Ted Carlson / Sikorsky AircraftF

Throughout the current Military train, the flight concerned the Black Hawk helicopter carrying 230 kilograms of each simulated and actual blood. The helicopter flew as little as 60 metres above the bottom at 185 kilometres per hour between mountains, counting on onboard sensors to keep away from crashing into something. “We’re a self-flying automobile, if you’ll, so we utilise lidar and cameras,” stated Cherepinsky.

A separate check flight began out with the helicopter lifting off with a tonne of cargo connected to a 12-metre sling and flying towards a delegated touchdown zone. Throughout that flight, Sikorsky confirmed how a human operator on the bottom might use a touchscreen pill to command the uncrewed helicopter to drop its sling load and divert to select up the simulated battlefield casualty.

The autonomous helicopter stops to pick up a mannequin

The autonomous helicopter stops to select up a model

Ted Carlson / Sikorsky AircraftF

The autonomous Black Hawks might keep away from some prior controversies involving autonomous army autos as a result of they aren’t armed with weapons. However there may be at all times a danger that such autonomous plane, even these with out weapons, might trigger injury or hurt to individuals on the bottom if one thing goes unsuitable, says Pettyjohn.

The drone variations of Black Hawks and different army plane might probably carry out resupply runs with out risking the lives of human pilots. However the MATRIX equipment improve might additionally allow plane to proceed finishing up much less harmful missions on their very own whereas their human crews are resting.

“There may be probably large worth in doing these softer missions that aren’t essentially on the pointy finish of the spear,” says Pettyjohn.

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