The Naval Research Laboratory has developed a sensor and software pack for pilotless helicopters and will demonstrate the technology at a Washington conference this week, Reuters reported Saturday.
David Alexander writes that Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, NRL chief, described the 100-pound sensor and software as tools a Marine can learn within minutes by using a tablet as the command-and-control device.
Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences are leading work to produce prototypes of the technology module, which Klunder said is intended as a tool to replace ground convoys in delivering food, water and weapons to troops in combat.
The sensors are equipped with electro-optical, infrared and light detection and ranging technology that works to direct the unmanned helicopter into landing itself, Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, told reporters.
Killea said “you have to solve the problem of degraded visual environments” in order to have an autonomous system, according to Reuters.
“You can’t have an 80 percent solution with an autonomous system going into an unprepared site.”