By Katie Spence
What happens when the biggest defense contractor in the world, Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT ) , teams up with the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to build a robot? They build a Transformer. Yes, you read that correctly, Lockheed is building a Transformer. And it flies.
According to Kevin Renshaw, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works' lead on Transformer, "Transporting and resupplying troops in rugged, austere terrain has become a major challenge, especially as the U.S. military shifts to using smaller and more distributed combat units." Consequently, DARPA solicited companies to come up with a solution, under its Transformer program, and this resulted in the Transformer TX -- which Lockheed and its partner on the project, Piasecki Aircraft, intend to build.
Transformer TX. Image: Lockheed Martin.
The Transformer TX is an unmanned helicopter that's capable of vertical takeoff and landing, or VTOL. Further, it has a smaller footprint than a conventional helicopter, and Lockheed says, "Transformer's tilting ducted fans allow for a safer operating environment in smaller landing zones with faster transit speeds of up to 200 knots." More pointedly, the Transformer TX can land in an area half the size of what a conventional helicopter requires, and it's safer and more efficient. ...more