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Pilotless Drone Makes First Landing At Sea

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  • Registered Users Posts: 11,174 ✭✭✭✭Captain Chaos


    Not really, it's a long time coming tbh. The F-18E/F in testing since 1995 and in service since 2002 can land on a carrier without any input from the pilot but the feature is never used.

    When a drone can automatically engage and defeat another aircraft in air to air combat or even a full blown dogfight without any human input, that will be the future. That will be true AI.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    Not really, it's a long time coming tbh. The F-18E/F in testing since 1995 and in service since 2002 can land on a carrier without any input from the pilot but the feature is never used.

    When a drone can automatically engage and defeat another aircraft in air to air combat or even a full blown dogfight without any human input, that will be the future. That will be true AI.

    It's a bit more advanced that the autoland on the F-18.

    Not only has a drone made its first autonomous landing - more significantly it's also executed its first abort without any human intervention - the system detected the problem before the humans did and acted accordingly.

    Plus, I think true AI will come when a system can make ethical decisions as regards what and when to shoot.

    Some video of the drone landing.....



    Looks like it got the third cable too!


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,220 ✭✭✭✭banie01


    When a drone can automatically engage and defeat another aircraft in air to air combat or even a full blown dogfight without any human input, that will be the future. That will be true AI.

    I don't think that will be in any way a measure of AI really.
    I agree with Jawgap on this 1, a true measure of any combat aircrafts AI potential will be in its ability to distinguish between Shoot/No shoot situations in an ''ethical'' manner.

    As it stands Drones can carry enough processing power to defeat most pilots on a Logic/% basis with sheer computational speed allowing them to make much faster ''best guess'' decisions based on sensor inputs.

    The system will identify its position and the targets position and relative motions.
    The system will identify what option the human pilot will logically take to gain advantage, what option itself should take to counter that...
    And if it is in an already advantageous position, what can it do to maintain that position and eliminate the target.
    The system will identify the human pilot is entering a manuever i.e a rolling scissors maneuver.
    The system will calculate the human piloted aircraft's available power in energy and potential maneuver exit points.
    The system will attempt to counter, by countering the maneuver to
    a) keep itself in a tactically advantageous position.
    b) Applying thrust and maneuvering without a 9g Hard limit on the system(unlike the human piloted aircraft) allowing tighter turning, higher acceleration and much more freedom in how the Machine piloted aircraft
    Already this capability exists and has been demo'd(I will try and add links later) But iirc there was NASA and DARPA support and some extensive software thesis experiments.

    The system isn't foolproof, in that as the unit bases its counter moves on what ''best practice'' for human pilots would be it can be defeated(initially at least) by being ''unpredictable''
    But this behaviour then becomes recognised and countered.(Think Deep Blue vs Kasparov)
    The fact is though that ''traditional'' dogfight tactics are similar to chess in that there are patterns of movement and accrued advantage.
    These can be exploited through training for human pilots,
    and through designing aircraft to move outside the hard limits imposed by human pilots for drones.
    Anyway, unpredictable behaviour in a dogfight would lead to a loss of speed, height and situational awareness placing the human pilot at an immediate disadvantage if he didn't get a kill on the machine pilot with any advantage accrued by the ''improvised'' maneuver.

    To be added to this is the fact that ACM has long moved away from getting oneself into the 6/Killslot!
    Now with All Aspect missiles and massive off boresight launch capabilities for the most modern missiles....
    ACM is really becoming more and more about 1st look, 1st shot, 1st kill and again in this situation drones will have the advantage.
    The benefit of no pilot, no life support system for that pilot automatically gives the drone a huge advantage in Ceiling and climb ability and acceleration...
    So even discounting the ability of human pilots to ''improvise'' in a genuine man v drone(assuming same airframes) are already at a disadvantage.
    As modern aircraft have their 9g hard limit written into their FCS to prevent pilot overstress rather than airframe stress in combat, and for the drone...
    That limit can just be switched of or rewritten to any limit the hardware is tested to.
    The machine will have height and maneuver advantage by default and even with all aspect missiles.
    Height and speed will give the advantage even now and with a meatbag in the cockpit, the drone will always have the advantage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭Be like Nutella


    This is a link to a new and important US Air Force Report which sets out a massive increase in the use of drones in the military over the next 20 years amounting to Trillions of dollars in military spending. The main thrust of this Air Force long term plan, it seems to me, is to make drones more and more autonomous over time right up to and including total autonomy!

    It is called

    ' A Vision for Air Force Science & Technology
    During 2010-2030 '

    Can be downloaded here if interested

    http://www.af.mil/information/technologyhorizons.asp

    Here's a few quotes from the Report I find most interesting and alarming, I've underlined parts I regard most relative to the proposed path towards autonomy.

    Para 1 Page 60

    ' Airborne remote-piloted systems and many non-airborne systems have significant autonomous capability, however increasing levels of “flexible” autonomy will be needed for a wider range of Air Force functions during 2010-2030 and beyond. These will include fully unattended systems
    with reliable levels of autonomous functionality far greater than is possible today, as well as systems that can reliably make wide-ranging autonomous decisions at cyber speeds to allow reactions in time-critical roles far exceeding what humans can possibly achieve. '

    Para 2 Page 60

    '..in which this degree of autonomy can be varied from essentially none to near or complete autonomy...'

    Para 4 Page 60

    ' Although humans will retain control over strike decisions for the foreseeable future, far greater
    levels of autonomy will become possible by advanced technologies. '

    Para 6 Page 60

    ' Note that potential adversaries may be willing to field highly autonomous systems without anydemand for prior certifiable verification and validation. In so doing they may gain potential capability advantages that we deny ourselves by requiring a high level of V&V. In general, the enormous capabilities that such highly autonomous systems can provide are one of the main conclusions of this study. '


    Should robots be allowed to kill people by themselves?

    Humans MUST retain the decision to take life in war, in every instance, in order to maintain a chain of responsibility. This will make it less likely for lethal actions to be authorized because an individual or individuals could be held directly responsible for specific lethal actions.
    During the next decade the global drone industry will be worth tens of billions of dollars annually. The powerful drone industry lobby is already influencing politicians across the United States and other countries in an effort to sell more and more combat drones. Armed Drones or UCAVs have already been used to kill more than 4000 people in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries. Up to now, humans have made every decision to fire a missile from these UCAVs (in approx 450 strikes) but there are plans for completely autonomous UCAVs which would make that decision WITHOUT ANY HUMAN INPUT and that is something I feel we (as humans) should seek to avoid. The human in the loop should be considered legally necessary in all lethal actions.

    In my opinion no unmanned system should EVER be allowed to take life autonomously and we must take national and international legal steps to safeguard this proposed rule into the future right up to the level of globally ratified international treaty akin to the Laws of Conflict and International Human Rights law.

    Right now most people see drones merely as those Predators and Reapers over Pakistan firing Hellfire missiles at 'would-be' terrorists etc but military drones are in an early curve of development right now and as this report sets out - drones are and will be a central military option in all potential regional conflicts from assassinating terrorists up to and including all out war.

    This X-47B can cruise at 685 mph, is highly stealthy, can carry 4,500 lbs of guided weapons, can take off and land autonomously on a moving carrier deck and in the future will be capable of refueling mid air autonomously. It isn't hard to imagine that this platform will be physically capable of completing the find fix loop all by itself with no human in the loop from take off to search and destroy to escape and landing all by itself. That potential ability raises MAJOR issues with some people... a lot of people. Others simply see military objectives from a Von C perspective - whatever you need to do to achieve the objective is fine and everything is merely a tool but I don't believe that for a second. Autonomous drones making their own decisions to kill people changes the very nature of war and trashes thousands of years of solid limits to the violence we are willing do to each other in general.

    With no risk to ourselves and an ability to launch a thinking machine to go to war for us without our input and go kill people and then come back to us changes everything and makes violence easier to inflict upon ourselves. This is not a pussy approach to war this is dealing with the whole philosophy of war and violence and this needs debating deeply before we find ourselves far down the road of autonomous killer robots.

    What do you think?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    I think you've over-estimating the US defence budget by a factor of 10 and the procurement element of it by a factor of 50........

    Also these type of 'Vision' documents have a habit of being suddenly rendered useless by the next war.....


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭Be like Nutella


    Jawgap wrote: »
    I think you've over-estimating the US defence budget by a factor of 10 and the procurement element of it by a factor of 50........

    Also these type of 'Vision' documents have a habit of being suddenly rendered useless by the next war.....

    I don't think you know much about this particular document and you just made a knee jerk comment based on the fact you didn't like the breadth of what I said and you know your military stuff, which I don't doubt.
    If you have any interest in the actual report which is now widely considered to be the general forward looking plan for the USAF over the next couple decades and not just 'another vision', which I think you were alluding to, then go read it or Google it or find out more about it and come back and I'll debate it with you if you're willing to support your opinion. I was made aware of it a couple of years ago by a research fellow and writer at the CFR who focuses on Drone issues... it isn't just a white paper or just 'another vision' it was produced and presented by the recent Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, all of which I only state so as you might do some of your own research into it before making rash judgments which I am more than capable of making myself from time to time.

    Billions will be spent on R+D and S+T EACH YEAR going forward across the vast and broad public and private industries relative to military drone development ...and.... over decades.... that will amount to Trillions is what I said and stand by. I am more than aware of the specifics, scale and breadth of US Military spend and in particular how that pertains to historic, current and projected drone related expenditure.

    Not all of what this 'vision' sets out will become reality and yes of course a large conflict would/could change any pre-existing vision for expenditure... that's obvious but that is not the condition under which I link this report and how profound its effects will be on future military technology and in particular the path towards Fully Autonomous attack aircraft.

    This vision IS the general framework they're working with... of that I am sure. Specific budgetary 'parts' of it will be debated and voted upon over the next 20 years as part of standard budgetary oversight but the broad themes within this 'Vision' is what they ARE working with and will attempt to fine tune and 'pass' through the necessary steps to realize within annual USAF budgets going forward. Some parts will be dropped, killed and cut and other parts will be heavily endorsed and actualized.

    You should read it, and about it if you want to know where things are going.... there's a lot of needless mil-speak and science-speak and project-speak throughout it but if you've the patience to pick up on the individual projects it points to, sometimes vaguely other times not so vaguely, then you'll get a good picture of where the USAF is going, probably better than you will from any magazine or article.

    From what I have read this is the playbook, but you should go find out yourself.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    No, I've based my comments on my studies in this area.

    You can go all the way back to AP1300 one of the RAF original doctrinal manuals and follow it through and time and again you see staffers and theorists set out their ideas only for the next war to prove them utterly wrong.

    Mitchell, Douhet, Trenchard, Harris, LeMay, Boyd etc all made meaningful contributions but their 'vision' despite their brilliance was ultimately proved wrong.

    You pick any number of examples - but the F4 Phantom is probably one of the better ones - developed without a cannon because this was the age of missile, except someone forgot to tell Mikoyan-Gurevich!!

    EDIT:- USAF budget for FY2011 was about $170 billion - the US Navy about $150 billion. Across the whole of the DoD's budget R&D accounts for about $80 billion - it would take over 12 years from them to spend a trillion on R&D assuming the budget remains the same and all of it is spent on unmanned aerial systems.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 212 ✭✭theUbiq


    Pity the warmongers would spend their money on something useful...


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,195 ✭✭✭goldie fish


    theUbiq wrote: »
    Pity the warmongers would spend their money on something useful...

    You are in the wrong forum buddy.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭Be like Nutella


    hahaha


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    theUbiq wrote: »
    Pity the warmongers would spend their money on something useful...

    Ironic that this statement was probably written on a machine whose lineage can be traced back to the ones used for code-breaking in WWII, and it was transmitted here over a network originally conceived by an arm of the US DoD to provide robust communications in a time of war.

    Or maybe you were just referring to the bloated nature of the US defence budget - in which case I agree with you - they spend a lot more than they should or need to.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 20,297 ✭✭✭✭Jawgap


    .......



    Billions will be spent on R+D and S+T EACH YEAR going forward across the vast and broad public and private industries relative to military drone development ...and.... over decades.... that will amount to Trillions is what I said and stand by. I am more than aware of the specifics, scale and breadth of US Military spend and in particular how that pertains to historic, current and projected drone related expenditure.


    Just read something from Richard Hallion, a senior analyst in the Pentagon and it reminded me of this thread :)
    Too often air forces allow the state of technological research and development to push them down acquisition paths that may or may not be appropriate


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,830 ✭✭✭Be like Nutella


    I'd say he's bang on there... that is the nature of the long term complex DARPA process (which is meant to have a 'Law of Accelerating Returns' effect on the nations economy and technological advance as a whole) and the constantly underestimated lobbying forces within the Mil Ind Complex in the US.

    Project choices, expenditure choices, programs to build this and that or develop this or that are ALWAYS affected by industry and science and research and do not follow pure military logic i.e. what is needed to remain dominant etc.. Politics and business affect choices in research directions and procurement decisions as much as any military logic.... especially now that the large contractors have so much cash they can actually develop in-house without any initial funding and then easily sell their concepts to the brass who are dealing with politically motivated budgetary constraints.

    War as a simple romantic concept of adversaries has always been a false ideal and has and always will be governed by forces in business and politics much more than most people appreciate.

    This 'Drone Wave' is another perfect example of that.

    Big Business taking advantage of domestic and international politics to sell weapon concepts to clueless partisan Washington oversight committees and tunnel visioned military people who are trying to meet their individual challenges in an environment of unacceptable casualties in a war weary post 9/11 world. They haven't a chance. Big Business wins every time and sells weapons we don't need or which will negatively effect the world.... they don't care... it's just money. There is no honor in this industry and no simple truths about which programs are chosen or which are killed.

    The F-22 is a perfect example. The most advanced manned fighter that will probably ever be made at a cost of approx 400 million a piece ! killed at 200 aircraft... because of a total inability to manage long term complex programs and their associated costs... all because of Big Business ... and they win either way - cost over runs or not they always win and always get paid. Business, in one way or another in the end, decides which platforms get funded end of story. 4 or 5 companies invent and sell the largest weapon concepts to the US and it is certainly not based purely on necessity or military logic so I would absolutely agree with Richard Hallion when he talks about going down acquisition paths which may or may not be appropriate but I would go a step further and say that these business controlled acquisition choices are not only inappropriate for US dominance in some cases but also greatly harmful to mankind as a whole, as I strongly believe fully autonomous killer drones are.

    Drones and Post Heroic War
    by Christian Enemark



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