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back to article Automated air-traffic network developed for robo-planes

Good news today for people who like flying cars or flying robots, but clouds on the horizon for professional pilots and air-traffic controllers. Trials by US aerospace colossus Lockheed have shown that lightweight, distributed, automated systems can easily deconflict pilotless aircraft operating in crowded airspace. Lockheed …

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What an age we live in

Today, automated seek and destroy kill-bots, tomorrow, doing the weekly shop by air.

Also, if this thing is effective, why bother making your flying car so it can drive on the road? Why not replace driveways with small a landing strip and do away with roads altogether? Perhaps replacing them with decent sized cycle ways.

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Jobs Halo

Lightweight, distributed and automated

Nice - a handful of guys on the dunes with backpacks and a couple of guys in dinghy's or wet-suits and you'd have yourself a cute little portable coastal defense system. A "return to sender" for UAV bombers, if you will.

I love the smell of trust models in the morning.

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Anonymous Coward

Cool, but

"deconflict"? Has Mr.Page been de-Englished?

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Black Helicopters

For the Love of Pork ..... or should that be Dork?

"..much like the latest UAVs of today, which can fly an entire mission including takeoff and landing without any remote piloting by humans." .... Errr, surely it is all done by humans remote piloting/Joy Sticking?

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Alert

Automated air traffic control system

Need aviation types need reminding of what happened when Heathrow proposed an automated bagage system, aviation was not made to be automated

- the sky is falling, no that's just out of control UAV's

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@Richard

Dispense with road. So presumably we will need flying trucks to deliver bulk goods and supplies and landing strips to suit. Of course there is plenty of space for these car (and now truck)-sized landing strips isn't there. Dream on...

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@ the guy too understandable to be amanfrommars

you must be faking the name. that whole response was too understandable. And incorrect. The X-47 UCAV (which got the majority of it's brains from Berkeley-you know, those guys who make a big patchouli-and-pot stink about warfare, but get a vast amount of their funding from the very sources they're too stoned to understand) is designed to take off, fly a mission (recon or engage targets of opportunity-the only human intervention is a go-nogo decision on firing, and that's because of policy not technology) and land at it's assigned airfield. A recon mission would be completely hands off. The tech demonstrator already did full take-off, fly route and land completely autonomously.

They envision keeping these things in crates, with connections on the outside for a fuel input, battery charger and data link. You plug in jet fuel, keep the batteries trickle charged, then plug in a laptop and download the mission. Set the crate out on the tarmac, open it up, activate the drone, and stand back. When it comes home, let it cool down then fold it back into the crate. Repeat as necessary.

Humans have only been "in the loop" for the last decade because of policy. Long range persistent missiles like the Harpoon, the Silkworm, and the Exocet have 50 or longer mileage ranges where once released, they go towards their assigned target and in some cases, if that target no longer exists, will find another one, all without human guidance. ALCM's and Tomahawks do everything but land (since they're kamikaze devices) but is there any real big difference from a Tomahawk-type device to go from "reach target and explode" to "reach target and drop conventional bomb and then follow second course home"?

Just like telecomms going from human switchboards to fully automated IP packet routed devices. Most human operators at government and big companies were still around in recent history not because the technology wasn't already doing the job, but for political (Union) and customer perception issues.

Same for military combat in the very near future.

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@amanfrommars

Some UAVs have been autonomous for years - quite small ones too.

Check out the Aerosonde: http://www.aerosonde.com/

and remember THAT flew the Atlantic autonomously in 1998, though it was manually launched and landed. Current versions do both by themselves.

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Black Helicopters

@StopThePropaganda

"Human switchboards" & "customer perception issues": I once worked for a company called Transaction Technology Inc. (AKA TTI) that had a human receptionist/telephone operator- a minimum-wage temp. One day someone noticed that she was answering the phone (brightly, enthusiastically) "TIT"!

Interesting description of the "death in a box" concept. However the Star Wars series introduced the idea of completely automated boxes- no need for fleshies at all.

Automated black helicopters? Why not.

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Coat

Wonderful idea! (In Persian or some Iranian lingo, someone?)

So, just fuc*k the system up by having a rogue drone that doesn't comply/log in to their systems. Neat.

I was on a flight to NY from Paris(- no, not her...) once. I looked out of the window and saw a vapour trail. Looked a minute or so (or was that a gin'n'tonic) later, and saw it was coming from a jet heading straight for us.

Said jet made a fast left, so close I could make out the logo on the tail - it was a Lufthansa.

Automated? Fuc*k off, next time I'm going by ship.

Mine's the one with the Titanic logo on. Or was it the Hindenberg one?

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Stop

@Andus McCoatover

I'd rather have the automated systems than rely on the wetware taking the right decisions.

The DHL mid-air collision over Northern Switzerland a few years ago was caused by the pilots deciding that the automated collision avoidance system was wrong and doing the opposite. The only things that survived to tell the tale were the black box recorders.

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