This fully autonomous helicopter can be controlled remotely with just a tablet


An aviation and aeronautics research company by the name of Aurora Flight Sciences, recently demonstrated a fully autonomous military helicopter that can be controlled remotely with just a tablet.

During a demonstration at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, the UH-1H Huey helicopter flew 3 missions to deliver cargo without a pilot on the controls, but just two infantrymen providing instructions from a small hand-held tablet and a laptop.

According to Aurora, the camer sensors and the onboard LIDAR fitted into the helicopter enabled it to detect and avoid obstacles and evaluate the landing zone. Unlike the standard unmanned aircraft operations, where a ground operator provides detailed flight directions to the aircraft, Aurora’s system only received destination information and liftoff permission from the two Marines.

The system did the mission planning itself, charting the best route to the destination, avoiding obstacles and no-fly areas, and picking the best landing spot near the troops. It is also designed to be “aircraft-agnostic,” this means that it will work with other vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles, and not just military helicopters.

We’ve developed this great capability ahead of requirements and it’s up to us to determine how to use it.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh
Commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command

“The young marines today have grown up in a tech-savvy society, which is an advantage. We’ve got to keep pushing and moving this technology forward” he said.

While this test featured the AACUS-Enabled UH-1H, the technology could theoretically be integrated into other rotary-wing aircraft. This demonstration was the final phase in its five-year testing program.

An automated driving system is a complex combinations of various components that can be defined as systems where perception, decision making, and operation of the automobile are performed by electronics and machinery instead of a human driver, and as introduction of automation into road traffic. This includes handling of the vehicle, destination, as well as awareness of surroundings. While the automated system has control over the vehicle, it allows the human operator to leave all responsibilities to the system.

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