DARPA Developing a Robotic Pilot for Their Flying Car

By Cyriaque Lamar - io9 | November 9, 2010 6:19 pm

DARPA developing a robotic pilot for their flying carToday the US Department of Defense announced that they would be collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University to develop an autonomous copilot for DARPA’s upcoming “helicopter jeep” project. Yes, the military is developing a helicopter jeep.

Here’s the scoop on DARPA’s flying car from CMU:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a 17-month, $988,000 contract to Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute to develop an autonomous flight system for the Transformer (TX) Program, which is exploring the feasibility of a military ground vehicle that could transform into a vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) air vehicle.

The TX vehicle envisioned by DARPA would be capable of transporting four people and 1,000 pounds of payload up to 250 nautical miles, either by land or by air. Its enhanced mobility would increase survivability by making movements less predictable and would make the vehicle suitable for a wide variety of missions, such as scouting, resupply and medical evacuation.

“The TX is all about flexibility of movement and key to that concept is the idea that the vehicle could be operated by a soldier without pilot training,” said Sanjiv Singh, CMU research professor of robotics. “In practical terms, that means the vehicle will need to be able to fly itself, or to fly with only minimal input from the operator. And this means that the vehicle has to be continuously aware of its environment and be able to automatically react in response to what it perceives.”

It’s official, folks. Between all the secret wars and reptilian invaders, we are now living in a Nick Fury comic. The flying robot car is just the nail in the coffin.


This post originally appeared on io9.

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This post originally appeared on io9.
CATEGORIZED UNDER: Robots, Transportation

Comments (4)

  1. Realist

    That’s the single most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. How could anyone possibly believe that project will ever leave the drawing board?

  2. Jockaira

    An autonomous flying Jeep is certainly possible, but the requirement for autonymity would probably make the vehicle so expensive that we would price ourselves out of the war business.

    What is being suggested is a poor man’s version of an unarmed attack helicopter that could be flown by any normally intelligent teenager. Two factors not mentioned are active electronic defenses (expensive) and armor, which could make engine requirements also very costly (a flying Jeep makes a very easy target).

    I see no hope for success in this project until the autonomous part of the vehicle attains a near-sentient state that allows it to manifest an “instinct” for survival and a compassionate concern for the welfare of any passengers.

    The Moller Skycar would be a good place to start for a basic platform. It’s already developed as a working prototype with fly-by-wire capabilities and has the required payload, range, and speed for use on the battlefield.

    The artwork above is obviously an aeronautical wet-dream…

  3. Ann

    In wartime or during natural disasters, having a vehicle such as this that could fly above obstacles would be imperative to the survival of our troops. Many people believed that planes would never fly, and look where we are today. Just because the idea seems a bit Hokey, it doesn’t mean that it will not work and will not be applicable to the wars of the future, which are turning up more and more in populated metropolis areas.

    Will it be expensive? Of course, but research and knowledge that is gained from developing this flying car can lead to significant advancements in the civilian world in the future. Can you imagine avoiding obstacles and traffic with a flying car?

  4. Flying cars have always captivated the imagination of the general public. I’m still sticking with the Moller Skycar and terrafugia Transition to be the first ones to achieve that goal. In fact i wrote a whole article about it here http://bowlofknowledge.blogspot.com/2011/08/flying-cars-of-past-present-and-future.html about flying cars


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