US: Lockheed Martin has received a contract from the US Army Robotics Technology Consortium to pair up two of its prominent unmanned systems — the Squad Mission Support System ground vehicle and its K-MAX unmanned helicopter — in a fully autonomous reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition experiment. The notional scenario will be played out later this year, according to a company, where the K-MAX will transport an SMSS outfitted with a gyrocam via a sling load into a simulated area deemed too dangerous for humans. The K-MAX will then autonomously release the SMSS, which will then assess the surrounding area in both autonomous and teleoperated modes while the K-MAX returns to base. The demonstration is a follow-up exercise building on a 2012 demo at Camp Grayling, Mich., where an SMSS was operated from more than 200 miles away.
"This level of mission cooperation between unmanned air and ground vehicles of this size, controlled beyond line-of-sight, is an industry first. This demonstration could lead to expanded missions, such as remote sensing and monitoring of suspected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats or events,” says Joe Zinecker, director of combat maneuver systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.