NASA’s new software is a milestone in air taxi testing

On a chilly day over Long Island Sound, NASA and Sikorsky have made aviation history. Sikorsky’s experimental helicopters, an olive-green Black Hawk OPV and a vibrant blue-and-white SARA S-76B, soared through the gray, cloudy skies. What’s special about these flights? They were autonomous, thanks to NASA’s cutting-edge navigation software.

Last October, a collaboration between NASA, Sikorsky (a Lockheed Martin company), and DARPA saw two helicopters dance through the clouds, avoiding virtual aircraft in a simulation. These flights, testing collision avoidance software, marked the first instance of two autonomous aircraft flying towards each other. The goal? Advancing fully autonomous flight systems capable of managing an aircraft from takeoff to landing.