The idea of a car taking off like a helicopter sounds like science fiction. But four years after the Pentagon funded its vision for a “Transformer” military flying machine, the project has found solid footing. Two prototype designs, one by aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin and one by aerospace start-up Advanced Tactics, offer possible paths for the automated flying car to become a reality on future battlefields ruled by robots.
A flying car or similar vehicle could be useful in inserting U.S. Navy SEALs into enemy territory, evacuating wounded soldiers from urban locations inaccessible to helicopters or resupplying spread-out military units. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also wanted a vehicle that an ordinary soldier could operate without pilot training—a crucial specification that highlights the need for an autonomous “brain” similar to those that may one day operate battlefield drones and robots.
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