Helicopter drones are nothing new. Autonomous, self-driving cars are already on the road, in fact we talked a lot about these cars last month. But what if you could put the two of them together? It might be a challenge, but just imagine! It sounds like something out of a futuristic video game. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) have gotten together with Sikorsky, a leading supplier of military helicopters. In this 18-month study, the idea is to get eyes on the ground in areas too dangerous for humans by dropping autonomous vehicles from drone helicopters. (I never thought I would ever type that sentence!) Specifically, the study will use an auto-piloted Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter, which can carry an unmanned ground vehicle in a sling. The helicopter will drop the ground vehicle at a designated location and return to its base of operations. The driverless vehicle will then perform scans of its environment, biological, nuclear and chemical. Military applications are a given, but law enforcement agencies are also watching closely. It's a great opportunity to keep people out of harms way while performing critical operations. Fire and Rescue applications also come to mind. In the future, driverless cars
may be encountered on the road...and in the sky!