Drone operation? There's an app for that.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has given contracts to Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Science to develop an unmanned rotorcraft to deliver cargo on the battlefield. The ultimate goal of this project? To allow warfighters to operate unmanned rotorcraft with a smartphone-esque device.
With the Department of Defense's (DOD) interest in automation, as evidenced by UAV swarms , unmanned underwater vehicles (UVVs), and submarine-tracking unmanned surface vessels , this seems like a logical extension of improved autonomous vehicle controls. The program itself is a five-year effort, which will include the development of sensors and control technologies for autonomous rotorcraft.
Smartphone applications have also been a tool that has seen more and more use by the DOD as time goes on, with applications designed to help soldiers make smart choices at home and for rapid response in disaster scenarios. The idea that each soldier will be connected to the web and have a GPS device on them is allowing the DOD to create applications to provide important services to soldiers.
This possible application will help prevent casualties by putting fewer manned convoys into harms way to deliver supplies, along with making important supplies more accessible to soldiers on the front lines.
With a goal of getting a flight demonstration into the air in 18 months, soldiers may soon find themselves in a situation where if supplies are low they don't need to worry; there's an app for that.