Drones

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GIThruster
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Drones

Postby GIThruster » Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:21 pm

I was talking to a friend several years ago, who was a contractor on a DARPA funded drone project, and I said to him it appeared to me the only difference between RC aircraft and the drones of that time was the software and 'puting ability. He didn't respond. Must be a classified sorts thing. But turns out I was basically correct. What I was also correct about was that we'd see them in private use in no time, so why all the hush, hush on the topic?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/15 ... e_sofware/
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

ohiovr
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Re: Drones

Postby ohiovr » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:30 am

Drones have unfortunately mixed meanings with model aircraft. they will only become more sophisticated. Where did the line between model RC aircraft and Drone become apparent?

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 12:53 pm

One is a semi autonomous Vehicle used in war , with emphasis on autonomous.
But I rapidly see the line blurring into one huge graduated shade of gray.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

ohiovr
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Re: Drones

Postby ohiovr » Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:12 pm

paperburn1 wrote:One is a semi autonomous Vehicle used in war , with emphasis on autonomous.
But I rapidly see the line blurring into one huge graduated shade of gray.


The predator drone (I think it is called) still has a human pilot.

I really don't see the value of machines that kill people autonomously.

Voice: We've been told about these wonder weapons the Germans were working on - long range rockets, push button bombing, weapons that don't need soldiers...

General Patton: "Wonder weapons"? By God, I don't see the wonder in them. Killing without heroics? Nothing is glorified? Nothing is reaffirmed? No heroes, no cowards, no troops, no generals. Only those who are left alive, and those who are left... dead. I'm glad I won't live to see it.

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:43 pm

I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Postby Tom Ligon » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:16 pm

A drone is a male honeybee. They live for one thing and one thing only, to fertilize a queen bee, and the instant they finish this task, they die. They die because at that instant they become "unmanned." Drones are stingless (as are male bumblebees and carpenter bees). My wife and I keep bees.

The term was used for dumb aircraft used as aerial targets ... the instant they were successful at being targets, the were toast.

I get really irritated when I hear about a modern Unmanned Air Vehicle, part of a sophisticated Unmanned Air System, being referred to as a drone, but the public has decided it is so and there seems to be no going back. Drones with a sting, such as the armed Predators and Warriors, are an oxymoron.

The big Air Force UAS, Predator, Warrior, and Global Hawk, do have human pilots. They can act quasi-autonomously, but they fly with glorified autopilots directed by actual pilots (though these days they're trained as UAV pilots from the start). Army UAS are actually more autonomous. I have a fair amount of experience with the Shadow 200, for which we made the control system. These are prepped and launched by a single specialist from a launch rail on a small trailer that could be pulled by a Humvee. They are usually controlled by a Lieutenant or Captain with no flight training, just a laptop, pointing out where they want the aircraft to go, where they want it to point the camera, and what altitude to do it at. The UAV itself handles the whole piloting operation, it just uses the officer to give it something to do while flying.

The current generation of quadrotor craft with Go-Pros mounted on them are closer to the Army way of doing things. These are devilishly hard to fly in their basic form, so they almost always have sensors and electronics to help: at a minimum a suite of MEMS rate gyros and accelerometers to keep them level. The good camera platforms use GPS with these sensors to hold position and altitude for camera shots. Like the Shadow, the operator just tells them where to hover and how high, and where to point the camera.

Betruger
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Re: Drones

Postby Betruger » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:27 pm

Drone, in my experience with common English, is also used to mean someone with no mind. "I feel like a drone today - hungover", or "just another cubicle drone". It probably sticks for that reason: UAVs are mindless machines and also sound like drones.
You can do anything you want with laws except make Americans obey them. | What I want to do is to look up S. . . . I call him the Schadenfreudean Man.

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Postby Tom Ligon » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:44 pm

Betruger wrote:Drone, in my experience with common English, is also used to mean someone with no mind. "I feel like a drone today - hungover", or "just another cubicle drone". It probably sticks for that reason: UAVs are mindless machines and also sound like drones.


Consider, though, that you can today get model aircraft that fly using an i-phone as the control system.

i-phones these days contain three-axis MEMS rate gyros, accelerometers, and magnetometers, plus GPS. The inertial sensors started out to allow them to sense position for photography and to allow them to be used as game controllers, but is now sufficiently sensitive to let them be motion control sensor platforms. And i-phones are borderline Artificial Intelligence computers. They're not SkyNet. Yet. Maybe i-phone 8?

The one thing UAV control systems have that smart phones don't is a suite of air data sensors for altitude, airspeed, angle of attack, etc. However, I think you can get those as accessories.

Oh, and the phones have cameras, and some ability for pattern recognition. What the phone does not do, it can patch into computer networks that can. Barcodes are the easy part. Face recognition is a standard feature of cameras now. Automatically uploading to Facebook is common. Facebook recognizes faces. So it is not out of the question that an i-phone rigged as a model aircraft controller could learn to pick a person out of a crowd using aps that either exist today or could shortly. In other words, find a particular target.

I'm not personally scared of UAVs. There are more effective ways of delivering something deadly than a dainty little quadrotor. I do worry about the proliferation of cameras, of companies that think snooping on my private life is a good business model, and our general willingness to sacrifice privacy for a cool toy.

Betruger
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Re: Drones

Postby Betruger » Mon Jan 05, 2015 7:03 pm

I hadn't connected all of those dots, but I'll do it out loud next time someone calls a UAV a drone more than once...

I do agree about phones as "social" media's tentacles materialized beyond desk/laptop-bound webcams. I'd said as much to a lot of friends and relatives about gmail, for one... Everyone basically trusting the internet with anything that directly or indirectly leaves a digital print; and anything electronic effectively being made to be hacked. Hacking being just a different way to program, and computers being made to run programs. Two years later Snowden happens.

It really is running away from most people faster than they can keep up.
You can do anything you want with laws except make Americans obey them. | What I want to do is to look up S. . . . I call him the Schadenfreudean Man.

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:58 pm

I work on the shadow trainer project for the USMC. Its one of 4 different trainers under our control
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:33 pm

You would be shocked at how much data we can access on the net.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Mon Jan 05, 2015 11:33 pm

You would be shocked at how much data we can access on the net.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.

GIThruster
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Re: Drones

Postby GIThruster » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:19 pm

paperburn1 wrote:I work on the shadow trainer project for the USMC. Its one of 4 different trainers under our control


RQ-7 is a pretty fast little drone, but I always wonder whether it needs to be. 22 soldiers to man a system like that is pretty outrageous. If you could get by with a drone 1/3 that fast, you could use a hand launched electric foamy and get all the same utility out of it. You'd need maybe 2 soldiers and with no launch nor recovery systems, it would cost less than 1/10 as much (both financially and in human resources). So basically you have 1/10 as many drones available for the sake of flying 200 kph when 70 kph would likely do a much better job.

Sometimes I gotta wonder about the folks doing acquisition for USMC.
"Courage is not just a virtue, but the form of every virtue at the testing point." C. S. Lewis

Tom Ligon
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Re: Drones

Postby Tom Ligon » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:41 pm

I don't get why you think it took 22 people to fly a Shadow 200 (RQ-7). Athena finally got one of our own, and it was pretty simple to work on. There might be 22 people in a unit operating them, but not because it took that to fly one. They usually had 4 launchers in a unit, maybe more than one aircraft per launcher.

Two guys can pick one up. I've been one of the two. They use a launcher, but can fly from a short dirt runway, and land on a short dirt runway, maybe 10 ft wide and 300 ft long. Our control system upgraded them to autoland capability. Hardly a major operation.

Wikipedia claims over $15 million per unit, but I believe that is for 4 launchers and the aircraft for them. As equipped, they go for a couple of million each, but that's the cost of the hoity-toity surveillance hardware they carry. They typically have precision cameras, FLIR, and look-down radar. The little foam ones don't have radar. The aircraft itself is more like a quarter million, which is typically overpriced military hardware. Compare this to a $4M Predator or a $30M Global Hawk.

Maybe they can manage 200 kph (about 120 kts), but usually cruise around 80 kts, and they launch at more like 70 and land on a runway, flaps down, at less. They have considerably more endurance (6 hours) than some little hand-launched UAV systems carried in backpacks. They are not just for a quick look-see over the next hill. They loiter over a suspicious area, do precision daily checks down roads looking for IED hiding places that were not there the previous day, and do precision targeting. The old Pioneer they replaced would do traditional spotting: fire a round, landed 120 meters NE. Correct and fire another round. On target, fire for effect. With Shadow, the vehicle position and camera attitude are precisely known, and the crosshairs coincide with a 3D map: here are the coordinates, fire for effect. Boom. Done. No chance for the enemy running and hiding while you get the corrections. Packables don't do that.

The army likes having their own UAVs, without having to beg the Air Force for some eyes. Packables have their place, but the Shadow is a serious UAV to allow field commanders to have not just access to UAV data, but control over it, sending it to give them real-time intel on the battlefield where their guys are in danger. And I've seen the footage of old Akmed, sneaking up on our guys, suddenly vanishing in a puff of black smoke.

Shadow 200 is one of the big reasons we didn't lose 20,000 men in Iraq. I have not heard the numbers lately, but in the heat of the war, Shadow had logged more flight hours than all other US UAVs combined. The amount of time looking at the enemy dwarfs the Air Force UAVs. Learn to love it.

Costs too much? What are lives worth? What is it worth to hit the target the first time? What is it worth to see the enemy before he can fire a shot?

paperburn1
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Re: Drones

Postby paperburn1 » Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:40 pm

That was very well stated. Time on target and the ability to relocate easily as the situation changes are the two greatest assets of the shadow program.
compared to having an AV8B loiter over area the shadow is a reduction in cost by factors. The personal number of 22 is actually very close to correct. Most people don't realize the behind the scenes dynamics that occur to keep any type of aircraft in the air and functioning properly. There a lot of paper pushers and wrench turners that most people aren't even aware of for any aircraft that keeps flying. The actual people manning and recovering the aircraft is quite small. Most people do not understand that there are different crews flying the aircraft at different times. There are the operators for when the aircraft is on station, or the operators for launch and recovery, and the preventative maintenance crews.there are also people in charge of mission assignments, briefing and end of mission assessments.
I am not a nuclear physicist, but play one on the internet.


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