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Helicopter drones are ready to drop driverless vehicles into danger zones

Matt Brian, @m4tt

Helicopter drones and driverless cars have been doing their thing for a while now, but having the two work together in unison is not a simple task. Not to be put off by a challenge, researchers at Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) have teamed up with US military aircraft supplier Sikorsky to go much bigger and use the technology to help survey areas that are hazardous to humans. It's part of an 18-month study that will see Sikorsky will supply an auto-piloted Black Hawk helicopter capable of carrying an NREC-supplied unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) to a test site in its sling. Once at the chosen area, it will drop of the UGV and head back to base, while the vehicle uses its on-board sensors to check for potential biological, nuclear or chemical contamination. Not only does it have huge military applications, law enforcement agencies could also utilize the technology, keeping soldiers and officers away from potential danger. It's maybe something you'd expect to see in an real-time strategy war game, but Sikorsky is betting big on automated flight technology. It wants its pilotless aircraft to handle the duty of carrying soldiers to the battlefield and make supply drops during operations.

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