The Black Knight Transformer (Image credit: Advanced Tactics)
A new drone is being developed that will be capable of transforming from a helicopter to a truck in order to evacuate troops and drop off cargo in conditions that manned aircraft cannot or should not operate in.
The “Black Knight Transformer” is an eight-rotor vehicle that can fold back its rotors for driving through tight streets, spring them out for takeoff and tilt them forward for faster flight, all while being remotely piloted.
The vehicle is being developed by El Segundo, California-based Advanced Tactics with the help of funding from a Congressional Special Interest program, according to an Advanced Tactics press release from 2010.
The development process for this “Multi-Mission Medical and Casualty Evacuation Unmanned Air Vehicle / Unmanned Ground Vehicle” began in 2009 under the U.S. Army Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.
It is part of a larger push for drones to be used for military casualty evacuation, something that an Army study concluded “will soon be a reality and eventually commonplace in the battle-space.”
In the relatively near future, the military states that robots will:
(1) Provide tactical commanders with increased tactical and operational flexibility; (2) Allow the execution of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Casualty Evacuation – these missions in conditions that manned platforms cannot (or should not) operate in, such as “zero-zero” weather or a contaminated environment; (3) Husband critical medical “first responder” resources; and (4) Act as a force multiplier of scarce “high demand/low density” medical evacuation assets.
The military also wants to use it for cargo delivery, according to Advanced Tactics chief engineer Rustom Jehangir.
“The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is interested in using the Black Knight vehicle for unmanned cargo resupply missions,” Jehangir said to Popular Science.
So far, Advanced Tactics has only tested the driving component, which was tested in late 2013.
The company plans to test the flying part before the end of February.
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