Skip to comments.No Pilot, No Problem: The future of military aviation is unmanned. The sooner it comes, the better.
Posted on 04/18/2012 11:35:33 PM PDT by neverdem
With no fanfare and little media notice, an extremely famous American will turn 60 years old this Sunday.
It was on Tax Day in 1952 that the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, hulking symbol of the Cold War, accident-prone target of the unkind acronym "B.U.F.F.," the bomber several generations believed would usher in the death of humanity, made its first flight.
Some interesting points about the B-52:
It was considered old-fashioned even before its operational life began. In the late 1940s the Air Force almost shut down the planes development out of concerns that it would be obsolete by the time it entered service.
It comes honestly by its status as a cultural icon. That first flight was made by storied test pilot Alvin M. "Tex" Johnston, who is widely believed to have been the model for Major T.J. "King" Kong, the colorful B-52 pilot played by Slim Pickens in the Stanley Kubrick movie Dr. Strangelove. Over the years the B-52 has lent its name to a cocktail, several motion pictures, countless nightclubs around the world, and a great dance band whose flamboyantly gay stylings now seem as quaint and dated as the bomber itself.
Though it has a reputation as a nuclear-age terror weapon, it has never delivered nuclear ordnance. To this day, the only plane that has dropped atomic bombs in anger is the B-52s propeller-driven predecessor B-29 Superfortress.
Despite all the above, the B-52 is expected to remain in service until 2045. It performed shooting-war service this century over Afghanistan and Iraq. It will almost certainly outlast flashier successors like the Rockwell B-1 and the Northrop Grumman B-2. Given the vagaries of budget and the challenges of fully retiring any legacy system, its not impossible that the unloved B.U.F.F. could end up spending a full...
(Excerpt) Read more at reason.com ...
“I’ll bet we’ll have robotic commercial trucks on the Interstate Highway system by 2025. “
I wish there was some way I could take you up on your bet.
OTOH, I kind of like the mental image of I-10 in LA, with all the liberals in their automated cars doing 100 mph, when a rat pees on the central computer’s power switch...
What central computer?
Seriously ... the current paradigm is a bunch of independently controlled vehicles each with a very powerful guidance computer, recieving data from very high resolution 3D imaging system and a remarkably sophisticated attitude and environmental monitoring system, operating a thoroughly integrated set of route planning, collision avoidance, and environmental adjustment algorighms.
Why replace all that distributed computing, that allows vehicles to seamlessly enter and exit the system, with a mere central computer that has to keep track of it all remotely?
“Seriously ... the current paradigm is a bunch of independently controlled vehicles each with a very powerful guidance computer, recieving data from very high resolution 3D imaging system and a remarkably sophisticated attitude and environmental monitoring system, operating a thoroughly integrated set of route planning, collision avoidance, and environmental adjustment algorighms.”
Cheaper to just put a human behind the wheel.
Drones have very limited capability in the military. They have none on the highways, and I’d cheerfully bet that won’t change in 12 years...
That's what I just described. ;'}
OTOH, what's the cost to raise a human from zygote to fully trained driver?
Actually it’s not even a powerful computer or high resolution anything. Most of it is running off of GPS for the navigation, and proximity sensors like the self parking cars for the near stuff. They’ve realized an important factor of driving that most people don’t actually think about but it is how people really work: you don’t need specifics, you just need to know where the blobs you don’t want to hit are. A 3D image system will tell you all kinds of data about the thing you’re trying not to hit, but the important data is size direction and distance, which is easy to do with relatively unsophisticated stuff. Just like when you drive, while if you look at something long enough you get all kinds of specific data, but most of the time it’s just a thing about yea big, moving to where you want to be too fast for you to turn now. It was the big leap in realizing how little you actually need to know about your surroundings that allowed self parking cars, the first big step to automated driving.
I was describing the human driver. Or trying to.
In fact, trying to describe and quantify exactly what we do and how we do it when we drive is not easy.
It was the big leap in realizing how little you actually need to know about your surroundings that allowed self parking cars,
Granted ... it may be that in terms of computational power and sensing capability we (humans) are way overqualified for mere driving.
Ah. Yeah we kind of are overqualified, which is why we have radios. It’s also why we tend to stop paying attention behind the wheel, we’re bored, then we get in an accident.
IMHO the UAV is the future of air-to-ground combat. But until railgun AAA exists, capable of knocking everything out of the sky across an entire theater, fighters will dogfight with fighters. Thanks neverdem.
While the B-52 was in development, I think in 8th grade I had to do a report to my class from the little article of its development from the Weekly Reader. Hazy memory.
What was the 3 2 1 countdown for....profanity?
I'm certainly not suggesting there will be fleets of trucks.
I'm thinking more in terms of a couple hundred proof-of-concept vehicles.
The finances are compelling.
The minimum cost for a long distance driver is probably $50,000 a year.
Plus mandated rest periods and maximum weekly hours.
I will guess that a driverless tractor trailer is easily competitive with a train at 1000 miles.
Yeah .. didn’t figure that one would fly .. oh well, wrong again ;-)
All I was doing is explaining what THEY call it....I wasn’t directing the profane word towards an individual.
Best translation of liberal fluff I’ve seen in a long time.