The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has brought the US military one step closer to flying helicopters without a pilot in the cockpit. The agency successfully tested a helicopter equipped with an experimental autonomous flight software this past weekend.
The test flight, which fell under the agency’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS), involved a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter retrofitted with Sikorsky’s MATRIX technology, a core component of the program. DARPA defines MATRIX as a “tailorable, drop-in, removable kit” that can be added to many pre-existing aircraft without the steep expense of building a new, individualized autonomous system from scratch. Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin subsidiary) conducted the 30-minute flight over the US Army installation at Fort Campbell, Kentucky on Saturday, with an additional uninhabited flight on Monday for good measure.
DARPA first tested MATRIX in March 2021, though the technology was too new back then to be used without a pilot on board. The flight—which consisted of autonomous take-off, landing and two simulated obstacle avoidance scenarios, all coordinated with a tablet—was a success, with little help needed from the supervising pilot.Continue reading… “DARPA Successfully Tests Autonomous Helicopter”