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Australian News Outlet Captures Images of Boeing’s ‘Loyal Wingman’ Drone

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TRUNEWS with RICK WILES An Australian news outlet has reportedly captured the first images of Boeing’s “Loyal Wingman” autonomous air combat drone out in the open. Australian Defense Magazine reports the drone was spotted last week in what appeared to suggest it was being prepared for taxi trials. The location from which the photos were captured was not disclosed, but has been hinted as Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley in Queensland. The ADM report further states: “Until now Boeing has declined to reveal where the aircraft was being built, other than ‘somewhere in Queensland’ or when and where the first flight would take place, beyond saying ‘sometime in 2020’. “‘The first ATS aircraft is currently undergoing ground testing, which will be followed by taxi and first flight later this year,’ a Boeing spokesperson said today, but declined to confirm the location of these activities at this time.” The Loyal Wingman program, officially known as the Airpower Teaming System, is a joint project between Boeing and the Australian Defense Ministry. Under the auspices of Defense Project 6014, three ATS drone prototypes will be built to explore the concept of having unmanned autonomous aircraft teamed up with human-piloted warplanes. Each ATS drone is approximately 40 feet long with a wingspan of nearly 25 feet. It has a range of more than 2,300 miles with “fighter-like performance” specifications. Each one can be fitted with Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance or Electronic Warfare packages, although further development – while possible – is highly classified. The ADM article was published just days after the conclusion of DARPA’s AlphaDogfight Trials final test that pit several AI aerial combat systems against each other with the winner facing off against a human pilot. In the highly anticipated finale, however, the AI trounced a human pilot – who happens to be among the elite in the U.S. Air Force responsible for training combat maneuvers to up-and-coming American aces. The AlphaDogfight program is meant to develop an aerial combat AI that could be fitted inside an unmanned aircraft like the Loyal Wingman. Click here to see video of the AlphaDogfight Trials finale: Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force has unveiled another piece of bleeding edge technology: a flying car that doesn’t require a pilot’s license to operate. The vehicle – called Hexa – uses 18 independently operating rotors to provide lift and propulsion, which are controlled by a joystick and a “triply redundant autopilot computer.” The flying car’s manufacturer, Texas-based LIFT Aircraft, claims the Hexa is safer to operate than a traditional lightweight aircraft. It is one of several “eVTOL” – electric-powered vertical takeoff and landing – aircraft the Air Force is looking at as part of its $25 million Agility Prime program. Other contenders are being developed by Airbus, Boeing, and Uber. Meanwhile, the Japanese government is funding its own project that it says will lead to the rollout of a flying car in the general market by 2023. Tokyo-based SkyDrive recently announced its SD-XX, a two-person eVTOL that can reach a maximum cruising speed of 62 mph. But for those who would prefer to stay closer to the ground – without any AI – Furrion Exo-Bionics has unveiled its new four-legged 9,000 lb. exoskeleton “Prosthesis,” which it hopes will become the impetus to start a “global racing league that would pit multiple world-class athletes in head-to-head competitions through complex technical obstacle courses, wearing giant powered mech suits.” Translation: they want to make “mech racing” a real sport. Click here to see video of the Canadian company’s introduction to their proposed sport: (Photo Credit: Boeing)


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