New Black Hawks Fly Themselves: Popular Science

New specially equipped Black Hawk helicopter took its first autonomous flight earlier this week without any humans on board.

  • Computer-piloted aircraft took its first flight on Saturday during the test run of a program called Alias, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
  • The helicopter was the first of it’s kind and being tested by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, according to Popular Science.
  • The test flight took place on February 5 and according to the DARPA program manager it was a “simple forward flight with some pedal turns and a landing
  • The technology used in the flight came from a six-year venture between Sikorsky Innovations and DARPA, according to MSN News.
  • The aircraft is retrofitted with a Sikorsky-made autonomy controller system with an extra control switch.
  • The additional switch allows an aviator to indicate to the internal system whether there were two pilots, one pilot, or none.
  • The test flights give hope that the aircraft could be used for particularly dangerous rescue missions, according to PopSci.
  • While these were just test flights, they hint at a future in which the Army could potentially send an autonomous helicopter on a dangerous rescue mission—and have no one on board it at all.
  • It will cost at least $1 million to retrofit a Black Hawk to fly on its own, according to MSN.