Autonomous vehicles are rapidly becoming a fad, with many of the largest automakers pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into perfecting the autonomous technology. When the technology does become commercial, taxi companies would stand to make a lot more money, in addition to reducing car accidents and improving the general driving experience. However, autonomous helicopters would really push the boundaries of innovation for automation.
Sikorsky, the iconic American helicopter manufacturer has now outfitted one of its most popular aircraft with its Matrix autonomous technology. Sikorsky’s S-92 would perhaps be the first major commercial helicopter to feature the latest upgrade. In addition to the autonomous module, it also has a new gearbox and larger cabin windows to allow greater convenience in military or coast guard operations.
The autonomous module for the S-92 is still in its initial phases and the aircraft would require human pilots. However, the pilots would have a much easier time flying the chopper, with the enhanced system handling most of the difficult aspects of flying. For example, flying at night or during storms is considerably tougher, more so if it is for search and rescue operations or landing on a helipad that is on an offshore oil rig or a ship that is in motion. The Matrix autonomous technology can handle a major part of the landing such as lining up with the helipad and stable hovering during bad weather or when visibility is poor. All of these features would definitely make flying helicopters much safer for the passengers and more convenient for the pilots.
Another interesting application of the autonomous feature would be autonomous flying taxis. These would allow people to avoid the urban congestion and might also help alleviate traffic snarls of big cities