The smartypants at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have been doing some very cool things with automated UAS flight, without a pilot or GPS signal.
While their work focuses on solutions for the military, clearly their work filters out into consumer consumption as well. DARPA was the leading developer of things like the internet, GPS, speech translation, stealth planes, autonomous vehicles, and bionic limbs.
The application of the DARPA Fast Light Autonomy (FLA) solutions has a direct application in public safety missions. Using the foundation of this technology law enforcement would be able to send UAS aircraft into unknown situations while fire and rescue departments could send out a swarm of FLA aircraft to search different quadrants for a missing person.
I’ve said for some time now that the role of the pilot as a stick pusher will become less critical or maybe not even necessary in the future. Artificial intelligence and autonomous flight will allow the pilot-in-command (PIC) to focus more on the mission than the actual flying.
Another project by the University of Zurich is perfect for urban environments. The DroNet project allows UAS to fly in congested urban settings and inside tight spaces like hallways.
When we look back in five years the UAS of today will look more like our first tricycles than cutting-edge solutions.