The US Army says it will fly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter carrying 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of military supplies without aircrew.
The experiment will be part of the annual Project Convergence, an exercise to integrate artificial intelligence, robotics, and autonomy into military platforms to improve battlefield integration.
According to the service, the trial is being held to evaluate if such an autonomous vehicle can deliver supplies and perform other missions with fewer operators.
The US Army plans to have a single soldier controlling multiple autonomous vehicles in various operational environments.
“Autonomous capability is at the forefront of what we believe our next operating concept will be based on,” Army Futures Command Director Lt. Gen. Scott McKean said.
“Why do you need a Black Hawk? Think of the capacity that a Black Hawk provides in the sense of carry capabilities. It really will help us provide commanders options.”
The experiment will be conducted in the fall, with participation from all military branches and the British and Australian militaries.
‘Great Learning Opportunity’
Apart from autonomous Black Hawks, the US Army will experiment with various air and ground robotic vehicles from the US, the UK, and Australia.
It will also test its ability to “swarm” using a group of drones controlled by a soldier.
“This is convergence,” McKean stressed. “How do we pass the data from those robotic vehicles back to the command post so commanders can make sense and act on what those systems are providing? This is going to be a great learning opportunity to see just where we are.”
Project Convergence is expected to test various cutting-edge capabilities as part of the US Army’s continuing modernization effort.