The Australian arm of Boeing has completed the first stage of testing of autonomous aircraft that are capable of performing in-air programmed missions together without input from a human pilot.
The UAVs are equipped with a newly-developed onboard command and control system that automatically perceives, processes and reacts to the environment in coordination with other unmanned vehicles.
The autonomous systems development program was established in Queensland only six months ago and is driven by partnerships with 14 small and medium-sized enterprises in the area.
“What we’ve created here in Australia has the potential to transform the use of unmanned vehicles for civil, commercial and defence applications – whether that be in the air, on the ground or out at sea,” said Shane Arnott, director of Boeing Phantom Works International.
“This capability will be a huge driver of efficiency and productivity. By safely teaming unmanned systems with human-operated systems, we keep people away from dull, dirty and dangerous tasks so they can focus on activities that machines can’t or shouldn’t do.”
The project will continue over the coming months, with the Boeing Australia team looking to incorporate and test more advanced behaviors on high-performance air vehicles before exploring other domains such as unmanned ocean vehicles.