Boeing Carries out Synchronized, Autonomous Drone Missions

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Boeing has completed a set of synchronized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight tests using new on-board autonomous command-and-control technology developed by the company in Australia.

Conducted at a regional Queensland airfield, the test flights saw five UAV test beds equipped with Boeing’s new on-board system safely complete in-air programmed missions as a team without input from a human pilot.

The milestone comes six months after Boeing established an international autonomous systems development program in Queensland.

“What we’ve created here in Australia has the potential to transform the use of unmanned vehicles for civil, commercial and defense applications – whether that be in the air, on the ground or out at sea,” states 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.”

Boeing says its partnership with small and midsize enterprises helped drive rapid design, development and testing of this autonomous technology. In just two months, Boeing vetted and issued AU$2.3 million in contracts with 14 Queensland businesses.

Over the coming months, the Boeing Australia team will incorporate and test more advanced behaviors on high-performance air vehicles before exploring other domains such as unmanned ocean vehicles.

This activity is delivered in partnership with the Queensland government as part of Boeing’s Advance Queensland Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project.

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