Since 2010, DARPA has been kicking around the concept of giving us an Autobot-esque vehicle of our own. Initially, the project was simply called Transformer (TX for short). Now, what began as a Humvee that looked like the folks over at Terrafugia got their hands on it, has re-emerged as a sleek, modular drone for tomorrow's military.
The new drone is called ARES, short for Aerial Re-configurable Embedded System, and it has certainly undergone a bit of an overhaul since its initial design. A new artist's rendering of ARES depicts a modular, futuristic helicopter drone that has completely shed its wheels and ground transport origins. DARPA is also reporting that the new ARES is a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone capable of transporting up to four troops and their gear in a single trip.
This payload capacity also makes ARES the ideal autonomous military ambulance, capable of flying the injured out of harm's way without the need for an airstrip or a human pilot. ARES will also make cargo runs and can be outfitted to make amphibious landings as well as those on land. The project, a collaboration between Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks and DARPA is now in its final stage of development, so don't be too surprised if you suddenly look up and see real life Transformers flying overhead.