January 27, 2012
The Drones are Coming!

Observation: The Navy's X-47B has started its final series of tests in preparation for an automated carrier landing. Conclusion: The X-47B marks a paradigm shift in warfare, one that is likely to have far-reaching consequences. It's been quite some time since I've seen such a stellar example of sensationalism. This article should be used in classes about it.

Ok, the actual situation: drones have been flying semi-autonomously for at least eleven years now, ever since the Global Hawk prototypes started tooling around. The biggest problem they face right now is the FAA won't let them fly anywhere near commercial airspace, because nobody wants to go down in history as the bureaucrat that let a Global Hawk run over an Airbus. Engineers talk big about how their drones will eventually be bright enough to shoot bad guys by themselves, but anyone who knows anything about engineers when they start talking big will understand it will be a very cold day in hell before we give their Frankenstein's monster a button it can press on its own. Hell, we don't even let pilots shoot stuff all by themselves.

Posted by scott at January 27, 2012 03:04 PM

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