National Defense Magazine reports that "the K-MAX unmanned helicopter was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 to haul cargo in and out of warzones. It allowed U.S. forces to cut ground convoys that were vulnerable to roadside bombs. Although initially scheduled only for a six-month deployment, the aircraft is still supporting operations in theater three years later, having flown more than 1,900 missions in which it carried 5.5 million pounds of cargo."
"The success of the K-MAX is indisputable, military officials have said. However, it still relies on operators to remotely control the aircraft. A fully autonomous aircraft or vehicle able to carry supplies and equipment in and out of challenging, dynamic environments remains a technology of the future."
"To move closer to that goal, industry has bankrolled internal research and jumped aboard various technology development initiatives led by the services."