Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird H-6U helicopter successfully performed 14 autonomous takeoffs and landings from a ship during test flights in July in another milestone for robot flight.
The tests, conducted from a private ship off the coast of Florida, used a commercial off-the-shelf takeoff-and-landing system combined with Unmanned Little Bird’s automated flight control system. Two pilots were aboard the aircraft to take over in case of a problem but were not required, Boeing said. The aircraft accumulated 20 flights hours with 100 per cent availability.
“Unmanned Little Bird performed flawlessly, proving not only its reliability as a mature platform but its adaptability for various missions and continued innovation,” said Debbie Rub, Boeing vice president and general manager of Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems. “By successfully demonstrating this maritime capability, we are able to provide warfighters with a critical unmanned solution to meet their missions.”
Unmanned Little Bird is a variant of the MD-500 series helicopters, which have accumulated 14 million flight hours over five decades. The aircraft’s missions include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; precision cargo resupply; weapons delivery; and manned-unmanned teaming.
Boeing is also using the aircraft as a technology demonstrator for multiple platforms.