|Source: Sikorsky S-76B|
Ready When Needed
When US pilots go to war, the US Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA wants robots as their co-pilots. These are not auto-pilots. DARPA wants fully functional robot pilots capable of performing routine piloting tasks.
DARPA just demonstrated what the plan consists of in Virginia. They used a S-76B helicopter, which is the civilian version of the Army's Blackhawk, to perform maneuvers. The aircraft landed, maneuvered to avoid a vehicle, lifted-off and then hovered motionlessly for several minutes. No human was on board. The pilot was a robot controlled by a human pilot from a computer in another aircraft.
Kit to Quickly Deploy
The demonstration lasted an hour. The Army calls it Mission Adaptive Autonomy, meaning the robot is there when the pilot needs to focus on the mission rather than the flight. DARPA wants a kit that can quickly add a robot co-pilot to any manned aircraft. It's working with Sikorsky on the system.