May 14, 2013

Navy's Historic Drone Launch: More Autonomous Than You Might Think

Spencer Ackerman, writing about today’s X-47B aircraft carrier drone launch for Wired:

“‘The Navy’s model is different from the Air Force’s,’ said Rear Adm. Ted Branch, the commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic. ‘We don’t have someone actively flying this machine with a stick and a throttle. We fly it with a mouse and a keyboard.’ In military nomenclature, the Air Force has drone pilots; the Navy has drone operators.”

I didn’t know that. There’s no remote pilot controlling the Navy’s UCAV, only a flight plan and a computer algorithm executing that plan, and a fail-safe human watching over it. Let’s hope the human stays in the loop for the kill decision (great book, BTW).

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