Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Robot Air Attack Squadron Bound for Iraq

Essentially a bigger, badder, faster version of the Predator, unit price somewhere around $20 million, for aircraft, spares and ground equipment.

Hattip to Neptunus Lex.

But it got me thinking - how long before the human pilot is obsolete, before the profession of pilot is as firmly in the past as blacksmith or fletcher? The role of flight engineer has been automated, and an increasing percentage of aircraft accidents are being attributed to human error. How long before this is the justification for eliminating the human element altogether? I think we could safely say 100 years from now, airliners will fly from place to place without any human intervention, perhaps only the inclusion of a safety pilot standing by in case of systems failure. From speaking with those inside the aviation industry, the only phase of flight that computers have problems dealing with at the moment is taxying. Obviously, speaking with air traffic control is too difficult for a computer, but this too could be overcome if an ATC computer were to talk to and issue instructions to the aircraft computer directly via a datalink. They already issue clearances this way in some parts of the world, the crew merely acknowledging with the push of a button.

I think the technological issues will be overcome in my lifetime, and then the only impediment will be human issues, i.e., the pilots association being none too happy with losing their livelihoods, and passengers being unconvinced of the safety of aircraft flying without human intervention, most not realising is how much is already automated. Once computer control is accepted, an aircraft requiring a human pilot will be viewed as 'quaint,' like a horse drawn carriage, or a steam engine.

But I'm not looking forward to it.


At 12:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad we got it while it was good, pard.



At 11:52 pm, Anonymous best flight school in abroad said...

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