For the first time ever, a Black Hawk helicopter successfully flew without a pilot at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The flight lasted for 30 minutes and did not have any passengers on board, at all. For half an hour, the aircraft flew through a fake city. During the flight, it had to avoid imagined buildings. It also had to plan its route in real-time.
After that first test flight, the Black Hawk helicopter flew by itself again this past Monday, according to Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA handles all research for the Department of Defense. This test flight was part of DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program.
The ALIAS program wants to create more automation in already-existing military aircraft. The ALIAS program has made giant leaps in automation over the last 50 years. The UH-60A model Black Hawk helicopter that flew by itself had special tech installed so that it could fly without a pilot. The technology used is called Sikorsky MATRIX and is made by Lockheed Martin.
Flying Without A Pilot Will Be Safer, Smarter, and More Efficient
If more military aircraft begin to fly on their own, this will free up time for pilots. Instead of focusing on flying the helicopter, they’ll be able to focus on the mission itself. Not only is it more efficient for tech to handle the flight process, but it’s also safer. Overall, self-flying helicopters will be able to help Army pilots successfully finish their missions.
CNN reports that using the ALIAS program will open up Army scheduling. A release made by Stuart Young, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, says that “with ALIAS, the Army will have much more operational flexibility.”
For the Army, this “flexibility” includes flying aircraft, like the Black Hawk helicopter used in testing, at any time during the day or night. They can choose to have pilots onboard or not. The Army will also be able to fly aircraft in difficult or potentially dangerous conditions without putting pilots at risk.
Social Media Sounds Off On Self-Flying Black Hawk Helicopter
Reuters shared a video of the Black Hawk helicopter flying. During the video, we can see different stages of the flight. We get to see the unmanned aircraft take off, turn around, and land. According to the video, it made a perfect landing.
“The first unmanned flight of a U.S. military icon, the Black Hawk helicopter, took off in Kentucky,” they wrote on Twitter.
Social media users were quick to respond to the tweet. Reactions seem to be mixed, and we can see why. Remember those autonomous robots governments want to make? This feels a little bit like that. In fact, one Twitter user even replied with a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator.
Others were excited by this scientific breakthrough. “Remote control or autonomous?” one user wondered. Another said that self-flying aircraft would be great for law enforcement, too.