Archives For pilotless planes

Handout photo from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles.

We’ve posted quite a bit on this blog about the much-predicted driverless car revolution, but let’s take the debate even one step further.

And even a little … scarier as well.

This recent piece by the Brisbane Times says that BAE engineers in Britain are researching pilotless planes — the article even says they already have prototypes already flying over the U.K. skies. The egg heads call the technology the “future of air travel.”

Come fly the robot-driven skies! How safe do you feel about that?

It’s one thing to share the highway next to a bucket of bolts with a robot driver — but to take the the airways in the hands of a computer pilot tens of thousands of miles above the ground, that’s something else. There’s definitely a lot of people who are going to take a long time to get comfortable with that.

Don’t get us wrong, there are a LOT of safety features involved. Cameras on the pilotless planes patrol the heavens for any possible dangers and can spot other aircraft.

Like driverless cars, the robot-driven planes also use sensors to scan the skies and rely on advanced algorithms running in onboard computers.However, these systems have to be extremely intelligent — a lot more goes in to sustaining safe air travel.

“The level of autonomy can be gradually increased,”┬áLambert Dopping-Hepenstal, engineering director of systems and strategy at BAE Systems, told the Brisbane Times. “The system flies by itself on a preprogrammed course until it detects something is wrong. Then it suggests maneuvers that an operator using a laptop on the ground can confirm or reject.”

Is this genius … or something that Lex Luthor invented?

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