12-28-17 / 7:25 AM / A SELF-FLYING HELICOPTER.

The Osgood File. This is Charles Osgood from the Dell Small Business Studios.

As the push for self-driving cars becomes more popular, the U.S. Military has taken the idea to new heights – by experimenting with an autonomous helicopter.

As you’ll hear after this…

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David Martin of CBS News tells us more about the autonomous helicopter that the U.S. Military is testing…

VO – David Martin, CBS News Correspondent
“The Huey helicopter has been around since Vietnam, but this one could be the start of a revolution. It’s flying itself.”

The pilot in the cockpit is just a safety observer.

He’s keeping his hands close to – but not on – the controls.

And the person telling the helicopter what to do is Marine Sergeant Dionte Jones…

SOT – Marine Sergeant Dionte Jones
“The helo comes in and requests permission to land, I would give it permission to land. When it’s ready to leave, or when I unload all the stuff that I need, it will ask me permission to leave, I give it permission to leave. And it’s really just that simple.”

VO – David Martin
“Sgt. Jones is not flying the helo. He has no joystick to pilot it by remote control – just a tablet to issue basic instructions, no prior experience required.”

SOT – Marine Sergeant Dionte Jones
“Fifteen minutes of training with the tablet, anybody can pick it up. It’s real easy.”

VO – David Martin
“The Office of Naval Research, which developed the technology, says it’s placing a large bet that autonomous aircraft can take the place of humans.”

It took five years – and 98 million dollars – to develop the flight computer that turns the helicopter into a self-flying aircraft.

And there is a pod on the helicopter’s nose that is constantly scanning for obstacles, warning the computer about hazards that are hard to see – such as power lines.

David Martin, what’s next?

VO – David Martin
“The initial concept is to use self-flying helos to deliver supplies to Marines in the field, freeing up pilots for other missions. This Vietnam-era Huey will fly into the future when it starts training with Marines in California this spring.”

The Osgood File. This is Charles Osgood.