Boeing Successfully Tests Autonomous UAV Technology

New onboard command and control systems removes the need for human input.

Testing drones in Australia
Testing drones in Australia.Boeing Australia

Boeing has successfully completed the first tests of new on-board autonomous command and control technology for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which allows them to operate without input from human pilots, the company announced. Testing took place at an airfield in Queensland, Australia and saw five UAV's equipped with the new systems, complete airborne programmed missions as a team without any input from a human. This achievement occurred just six months after Boeing established their international autonomous systems development program in Queensland.

“What we’ve created here in Australia has the potential to transform the use of unmanned vehicles for civil, commercial and defense applications – whether that be in the air, on the ground or out at sea,” said Shane Arnott, director of Boeing Phantom Works International, in the release.

The company’s partnership with small and medium-sized enterprises aided in driving the expeditious design, development, and testing of the new technology. In two months, Boeing established AU$2.3 in contracts with 14 businesses in Queensland. The next steps in the program will see more advanced testing of this technology on high-performance air vehicles, before beginning research on incorporating it for use in other sectors, like in unmanned ocean vehicles.

“This capability will be a huge driver of efficiency and productivity. By safely teaming unmanned systems with human operated systems, we keep people away from dull, dirty and dangerous tasks so they can focus on activities that machines can’t or shouldn’t do,” Arnott said.