Watch An Autonomous Black Hawk Helicopter Fly With No Pilot On-Board For The Very First Time

At Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a Black Hawk helicopter made its first autonomous flight without a pilot on board on Saturday.

According to an announcement from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Defense’s research arm, the aircraft flew for 30 minutes without any passengers on board on Saturday and Monday.

According to the program’s website, the test flight is part of DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, which aims to insert “removable kits” into current military aircraft to “promote the addition of high-level automation,”

The UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter was modified with Sikorsky MATRIX autonomous technology, allowing it to fly without a pilot. Lockheed Martin created the Sikorsky MATRIX technology.

“With reduced workloads, pilots can focus on mission management instead of the mechanics,” said Stuart Young, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office said in a release about the successful test flight. “This unique combination of autonomy software and hardware will make flying both smarter and safer.”

According to the statement, the ALIAS program has “leveraged the considerable advances in aircraft automation systems over the past 50 years,”

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Young believes that autonomous helicopters, such as the Black Hawk, will assist Army pilots in carrying out their missions more efficiently.

“With ALIAS, the Army will have much more operational flexibility,” Young added in the release. “This includes the ability to operate aircraft at all times of the day or night, with and without pilots, and in a variety of difficult conditions, such as contested, congested, and degraded visual environments.”

Source: DARPA

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