When smoke gets thick or night falls, firefighting pilots often have to stop their assaults on wildfires until they can see again.
But according to The Associated Press, a Lockheed Martin K-MAX pilotless helicopter could change that story.
The new helicopter was tested last week near Boise, Idaho, and successfully scooped water, dumped it on targets, and delivered supplies without anyone controlling it on board.
Interior Department Office of Aviation Services director Mark Bathrick says, "Wildland fires are a huge problem, particularly here in the West. I'm a believer in the technology that could be put on other helicopters, that eventually could be put on fixed-wing aircraft — scoopers and air tankers."
The craft can be conventionally piloted or remotely controlled, but it can also fly on its own, using high-tech sensors to fly into situations deemed too risky for the lives of human pilots.
The K-MAX has already been battlefield tested in Afghanistan for three years to supply troops instead of risking traveling on roads laced with IEDs.
How cool is this?