Forget Self-driving Cars, a Helicopter Completes 30-mile Autonomous Flight


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Cars aren’t the only autonomous vehicles being tested. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, has “successfully demonstrated a 30-mile autonomous flight using a Sikorsky S-76® commercial helicopter.”

A video recently published to YouTube shows a flight operator directing the aircraft’s takeoff with a tablet.

The operator can also use the device to select or enter a flight plan and is able to review it “without using aircraft controls.”

The helicopter achieved the flight by utilizing the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS), which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

According to a press release issued by the company, “ALIAS seeks to leverage advances in autonomy that reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance, and improve aircraft safety and reliability.”

With Sikorsky’s completion of Phase I, it will use a $9.8 million award from DARPA to work on modifications for Phase II.