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Lockheed Martin and Kaman's unmanned helicopter wins military contract (video)

Tim Stevens

When developing an unmanned vehicle there are two paths to choose from: create an entirely fresh design with no room for a carbon-based pilot, or simply take an existing craft and make it self-sufficient. That's the direction Lockheed Martin chose for its submission to the the joint Army Marines Autonomous Technologies for Unmanned Air Systems (ATUAS) program, and it turned out to be a winner. The idea is to create an autonomous helo that can resupply military forces, and Lockheed Martin started with a Kaman K-Max cargo chopper (demo'd after the break), capable of lifting 6,000lbs plus one pilot -- who was made optional. This customized K-Max can place its cargo within a 10 meter drop zone after flying 200km or more, but a principal advantage of this submission is that you can still put a pilot in there and use it like a traditional heavy lifter, while the competition from Boeing was a bespoke UAV with no room for meatbags. It's unclear when exactly this sentient K-Max will be hitting battlefields, but hopefully the Army and Marines come up with some other, rewarding jobs for their pilots, because between this and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap released earlier this year that particular job market could be getting tight.

Update: Bo from Lockheed Martin wrote in to let us know of a different video we've added after the break featuring higher production values, more guitar solos, and plenty of autonomous cargo liftin'.

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