Dawn Of The Drones

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Lockheed Martin has successfully completed a test mission involving resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, all of it conducted completely by autonomous vehicles, the company said last week. The test, at Fort Benning, Georgia, was designed to simulate a mission to resupply soldiers defending a village. The K-Max unmanned helicopter delivered an autonomous military ground vehicle by sling load. The ground vehicle then traveled to an observation point where it raised a thermal-imaging sensor to scan for enemy forces. "This successful demonstration with both unmanned air and ground vehicles shows us that these missions are not only possible, but can be available much sooner than you would expect," said Scott Greene, vice president of ground vehicles for Lockheed Martin.

"Fully autonomous capabilities as we've just demonstrated will allow service members to focus on important missions and remain out of harm's way," Greene added. The K-Max UAS can deliver up to 6,000 pounds of cargo, and can operate autonomously or by remote control. It's based on a manned helicopter that has been in service since 1994.