Boeing has tested its first unmanned robotic helicopter called the A160T Hummingbird. The turbine powered copter was tested in ground effect hover for 12 minutes to verify vehicle and subsystem operation.
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"Today’s Hover-In-Ground Effect flight is our first step in providing the warfighter the key element of our approach to providing persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance coverage that only an unmanned helicopter of this type can provide," said Jim Martin, Boeing Advanced Systems A160 program manager, after the flight.
This wasn’t the first flight for the Hummingbird, but was rather the 37th overall flight for the copter. The Hummingbird uses new helicopter tech that varies the rotor RPM depending on the altitude, gross weight and cruise speed.
The copter is 35 feet long with a 36 foot rotor diameter and will eventually be able to fly at up to 140 knots (a bit over 161 mph) with a ceiling of 25000 to 30000 feet. Time on target for the bird is said to be up to 20 hours and when rolled out for real world use they will be used for intelligence gathering, surveillance and recon as well as target acquisition and direct action. That means next time Osama pops up a robot helicopter could be waiting to blow his beard off. Via Sci Fi Tech