Cruise Control in an Air AUTOmobile

So much attention is given to fixed-wing aircraft in the discussion of drones, let’s talk turkey … well, let’s talk rotorcraft.

Unmanned_SW-4_PZL

Check this video out about Boeing’s unmanned “little bird.”

Europe features an unmanned rotorcraft, too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z9LdL-VA3E.

A very interesting line in the Boeing video is the concept of an “optionally piloted vehicle.”  Add that to the almost dozen or so names by which drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”) go by.

Perhaps the flying public would be comfortable with the notion of an aircraft that has a pilot on board, but is actually piloted remotely or automatically.  Really, this is akin to cruise control in a car (a/k/a an automobile) or a train or metro that operates by computer.  The three dimensional aspect of aviation (unlike driving, train operation, or boating) generates strong viewpoints that might insist on a pilot at the helm even where empirical evidence of safe automation exists.

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