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Marine Corps test autonomous helicopters

The Marine Corps have been testing autonomous helicopters to deliver supplies to troops on the ground.

These new helicopters will be able to deliver "ammunition, water, batteries or even blood" to those on the front line.

Dr. Walter Jones, ONR executive director, said: "This is more than just an unmanned helicopter. AACUS is an autonomy kit that can be placed on any rotary-wing platform and provide it with an autonomous capability. Imagine a Marine Corps unit deployed in a remote location, in rough terrain, needing ammunition, water, batteries or even blood. With AACUS, an unmanned helicopter takes the supplies from the base, picks out the optimal route and best landing site closest to the warfighters, lands, and returns to base once the resupply is complete - all with the single touch of a handheld tablet."

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, commanding general, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, added: "We've developed this great capability ahead of requirements and it's up to us to determine how to use it. The young Marines today have grown up in a tech-savvy society, which is an advantage. We've got to keep pushing and moving this technology forward."

It is also hoped these can be adopted across the country, keeping more and more pilots and crews "out of harm's way".

Dennis Baker, AACUS program manager, added: "AACUS gives revolutionary capability to our fleet and force. It can be used as a pilot aid to operate in GPS - and communications-denied arenas, or allow fully autonomous flights in contested environments - keeping our pilots and crews out of harm's way."

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