29 Nov '11, 7pm

When Will We Have Unmanned Commercial Airliners?

Technical obstacles can be cited: Fully automated planes can't yet visually identify nearby planes, and as for the remotely piloted ones, the civilian variety can't communicate with ground stations, because they haven't got enough bandwidth. "The name of your magazine is the underbelly of all the problems," says Doug Davis, director of the unmanned aircraft program at New Mexico State University , in Las Cruces. "There's not enough frequency spectrum. We have to compete for it with all these mobile phones and other demands." But technical problems are hardly the entire explanation. The military has proved this point time and again, by trusting automation to do things that few human pilots could do on a fair day and with a following wind. In a stealth aircraft, for instance, software fiddles from moment to moment with the flight-control surfaces; otherwise, the radar-eludin...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/when-will-we-...

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