Speaker 1: Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. There's no pilot inside this helicopter. It's 20, 22. Let's face it. We're used to seeing all types of vehicles operate themselves from cars to boats, drones, even motorcycles. [00:00:30] But some people might say there's something a little ominous about seeing a military grade helicopter flying without a pilot. This is part of a project from Lockheed Martin subsidiary se course and DARPA. Now, if you're not familiar with DARPA, it's a research and development agency for the us department of defense. And according to DARPA, this marked the first time a Blackhawk helicopter flew without anyone on board. [00:01:00] It took a off flew for 30 minutes over a us army base in Kentucky before safely landing on its own. So what made this possible? It's called alias an acronym for air crew labor and cockpit automation system. And to find out how it works. I caught up with Sekis director of innovations, Igor chair. Penski
Speaker 2: The way you, you sort of program this machine. Isn't by putting in way points like [00:01:30] you would've drone. This isn't fly here, here, here, and there you are actually explaining mission. There's a, a language that developed where you're telling the aircraft, Hey, I have a cargo mission and there's a set of cargo over here and it's this kind of car going. It needs to end up a were there. And this is when I needed. And then the aircraft goes out, figures out what the flight rules are, what the winds are and shows you a plan to say, Hey, here's how I would do this. And you, again, as a human being, have the final authority to modify it, but machines doing a lot, a lot of that, you know, intermediate [00:02:00] thinking source thing for you. This is an inherent with what's known as a fly by wire system where mechanical controls were completely removed from the aircraft. So even in pilot mode, the pilots are flying the same computer fuel. That's flying the aircraft when no one's on board. And that makes this aircraft easy to fly. You know, I could teach you to fly this aircraft in 15 minutes.
Speaker 1: Now, Igor was very clear when I talked to him, this isn't any sort of artificial intelligence. [00:02:30] The system relies on cameras, sensors, and algorithms to identify and then avoid obstacles. And this wasn't the first time we've seen alias in action. DARPA demonstrated it last year in a supervised test with a safety pilot on board,
Speaker 3: Engaging autonomous on start autonomous take off.
Speaker 1: [00:03:00] So I had to ask a question that a lot of you are probably thinking if helicopters can fly their own missions. Now, are we on a path to making pilots obsolete? Well, Igor pointed out a lot of what pilots do is more than just flying
Speaker 2: Medevac pilots, right? They aren't just there to fly a helicopter. They're the figure out how to get into, let's say a crash scene and pick up a casualty and that's creativity, right? That's understanding the, the context of what they're seeing, being able to understand, you know, level of emergency and other things [00:03:30] in that mission context flying the actual machine should be, uh, only, let's say 10, 20% of what they do. Uh, what have happens in reality, that percentage goes up as environment gets worse, right? Rain, snow bed, whatever really complex, you know, traffic scenes trying to do is augment the pilot to the point where flying the aircraft is really only 10% of what they do. And 90% they're focused on the mission.
Speaker 1: Now egres says they've got more testing plan for this year and are looking at alias [00:04:00] to other aircraft. One of the places they see opportunities is firefighting specifically at night when flying can be more difficult. And yes, Seki is talking to the us military to explore ways they can fit this tech onto military aircraft. But what do you think, where do you think this technology can fit onto other vehicles? Let me in those comments below as always, thank you so much for watching. If you enjoyed this video, don't forget to give it a thumbs up and subscribe to CNET for more like it. I'm Andy Altman, and I will see you [00:04:30] in the future.