Aurora Flight Sciences recently tested a system that allows traditional helicopters to fly unmanned.
The Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System, a kit that attaches to full-scale rotary-wing aircraft and allows them to fly in and out of austere landing zones with little human assistance, was attached to a Bell 206 helicopter on May 25 and flown around Bealeton, Va., the Pentagon said.
The AACUS sensor package aims to make combat missions safer and easier for pilots. Pilots control the helicopters remotely via an app on a military tablet.
"We can put this kit on any aircraft and as long as we do the science and engineering behind it, it can fly autonomously," Marine Capt. Christopher Alfaro, the logistics integration officer for the logistics division and strategy branch of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, said.
Aurora plans to test the system on a UH-1H Huey helicopter from 2017 to 2018, with an aim to implement the tech into the Marine Corps sometime in 2018, the Pentagon said.
"This system is going to allow pilots to let the system do the risk jobs," Osprey pilot Maj. Jason Jewell said.