Helicopter drones are now working in tandem with driverless cars.
That’s the gist of a massive experimental undertaking that will pair a Sikorsky Blackhawk helicopter, the helicopter of choice for the U.S. military, and a driverless off-road vehicle.
This is a controlled experiment that will show how the two can work in concert to survey a fictitious ground site contaminated by radiation. The success of the program has broad implications for civilian, military, and law enforcement applications.
While drones have become nearly commonplace in the American lexicon and a controversial reality in the air, a pilotless helicopter and a driverless car working under the same aegis is rare.
The experiment is a joint effort between Carnegie Mellon University’s highly regarded National Robotics Engineering Center, or NREC, the storied Sikorsky helicopter company headquartered in Connecticut, and the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC.
The 18-month study illustrates the serious potential for driverless and remote-piloted vehicles, according to Jeremy Searock, a program manger for the NREC.
“This is an new opportunity for an unmanned aerial vehicle and UGV (unmanned ground vehicle) to autonomously work together to accomplish a mission which is only possible as a team,” Searock, a military veteran, said.
CMU said the Extended Operational Reach with Autonomous Air and Ground Vehicles project will be led by NREC and is sponsored by the TARDEC through the Robotics Technology Consortium.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com