And We Thought That R2D2 Was An Advanced Idea

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2nd Lieutenant
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
From Avweb:

"The Air Force has awarded a contract to Silicon Valley firm Reliable Robotics to study the feasibility of flying its biggest iron autonomously. The company will look at whether it makes sense to fly multi-engine jet cargo planes from gate to gate with a remote pilot monitoring from the ground. For each end of the flight, the company is also looking at having the planes loaded and unloaded with robots, too. It's also looking at making the technology available to commercial aviation. "Remotely piloted aircraft will enable the Air Force to increase mission tempo worldwide and leverage a certifiable commercial solution for defense industry needs at fractional costs and extend aircraft capabilities," Reliable Robotics said in its Feb. 8 announcement."
A few years back I was driving to my brother's home, about 400 miles away, and set the GPS for "Shortest Route." During the course of the trip the thing kept trying me to make a left turn, including ones that would have taken me down country roads and jeep tracks. Finally, as I got within about 20 miles of my brother's house and was approaching a really irritating intersection with a history of delays, I turned left as instructed, figuring the results could hardly be any worse. After a few turns left and right I was astonished to see a radar antenna, spinning away, appear nearby on my right.

My reaction: "Holy crap! I did not know this crazy thing had a Wild Weasel mode!"

On another occasion a few years later my brother and I were returning to his home from a very rural address where I had picked up a part for my airplane. There was no suitable easy direct route and following the main roads would have required we transit a notorious area nicknamed "malfunction junction" which, as an extra attraction, was undergoing extensive maintenance and modification. So I decided to let GPS find us a more direct and less heavily traveled route. At one point we turned down a road the GPS had designated and noted a Dead End sign displayed. I figured that, notwithstanding the sign, the GPS said we could get through there. We came to the dead end and found it enabled access to a power line maintenance road that ran under the high tension lines; I decided not to take that route given that we were in a Toyota Matrix, but if I had been in my 4X4 Tacoma I might have tried it.

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