Who needs drones when robots can fly real airplanes?
The optionally piloted vehicle (S-70 Black Hawk) from DARPA, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky (still image from the YouTube video)
Of course, this is a rhetoric question, because drones are incredibly useful in many areas of life – and not just military. However, very similar and sometimes even identical control mechanisms and systems can be used in conventional aircraft, to provide fully unmanned flight capabilities.
What is the actual state of such developments? A couple of days ago Lockheed Martin posted a video demonstrating how a pilot exits his S-70 Black Hawk, walks across the runway, and several moments later this flying machine becomes alive on its own. The helicopter initiated and completed a pre-flight check list, started its engines, spinned up its rotors and took off for a test flight. With no human crew, fully autonomously. DARPA calls this joint development “The optionally piloted vehicle“.
Watch the video footage below: