DALLAS, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin is to conduct an autonomous reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition experiment for the U.S. Army using unmanned vehicles.
The contract for the demonstration using ground and aerial vehicles was issued by the U.S. Army Robotics Technology Consortium, Lockheed said.
In the demonstration this year, a K-MAX autonomous rotorcraft will transport a gyrocam-equipped Squad Mission Support System unmanned ground vehicle via sling load into a simulated "area of interest" deemed too risky for human presence. The K-MAX will position itself over the intended release point and autonomously set down, releasing the SMSS upon command from a remote operator.
Lockheed said once delivered the sensor-laden and satellite communications-equipped SMSS will assess the area using a combination of autonomous capabilities and tele-operation that will be managed from a remote site while the K-MAX returns to base.
"This level of mission cooperation between unmanned air and ground vehicles of this size, controlled beyond line-of-sight, is an industry first," said Joe Zinecker, director of combat maneuver systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "We believe this demonstration could lead to expanded missions, such as remote sensing and monitoring of suspected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats or events."
The demonstration is a follow-up to a 2012 exercise at Camp Grayling, Mich., in which a gyrocam-equipped SMSS, operated via satellite from more than 200 miles away, successfully conducted a simulated reconnaissance mission.
Additional details of the contract and experiment were not disclosed.