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.
HOW THE AIRCRAFT FLIES:
- 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.