Boeing Australia has conducted a series of flight tests involving three unmanned aircraft performing missions autonomously.
The work took place as part of the company’s Autonomous Systems Platform Technology Project, says Boeing.
The work will inform Boeing’s broader autonomous aircraft efforts, as well its developmental Airpower Teaming System, an unmanned “loyal wingman” aircraft that is being developed in Australia.
“The goal of our mission was to completely test out our mission system software from start to finish, using three high performance jets,” says Emily Hughes, director of Boeing’s Phantom Works International.
“While we have previously flown larger numbers of aircraft autonomously, this was our first opportunity to perform an end-to-end mission test with three high performance test bed aircraft, at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.”
Tests saw the jets take off autonomously, achieve required formations, and depart from formation for an autonomous landing.
Boeing’s Queensland initiatives focus on getting “unmanned vehicles to perceive, process, communicate and act in accordance with their programmed mission – without input from a human operator”, the company says.
Additional flight tests will take place in Queensland later this year.
The Queensland government has invested A$14.5 million ($10.1 million) in the Cloncurry Flight Test Facility, located deep in Australia’s outback, for unmanned aircraft research work.