Elvis (the helicopter) is cheating death by becoming a drone

By Kelsey Atherton | March 17, 2021

The S-64 Air Crane is a former firefighting helicopter that’s being converted for autonomous operations.

The makers of an old workhorse helicopter named Elvis are converting their venerable flying machine into an autonomous robot. Aircraft maker Erickson and helicopter giant Sikorsky are working together to retrofit the cargo helicopter into a flying robot, one that could both fight forest fires and resupply military missions, all without risking the life of an onboard pilot.

Elvis is an S-64 Air Crane, the commercial adaption of a military cargo helicopter that first flew in the 1960s. In commercial service, these helicopters found a life hauling logs, in an approach to forestry billed as minimally invasive logging.

From Popular Science