Earlier this month a joint DARPA/NASA project successfully demonstrated
the first ever autonomous
inflight refueling (PDF format). A modified NASA F/A-18 operating as
an unmannned robot plane refueled from a conventional 707-300 tanker
aircraft. The tanker needed only a small piece of additional equipment
to assist the UAV
with relative navigation. The F/A-18 UAV had pilots aboard in case of
emergency but they was not needed (the DARPA photo shows
both pilots holding their hands up during the refueling). The goal is for
miltary UAVs to "locate tankers, form up, accept clearances, refuel,
and disengage without any human intervention". The ability to refuel
will be critical if UAVs are to be used for unmanned strike operations.
One day people will laugh at the idea that it was once necessary to get
behind a steering wheel or joystick and manually fly planes or vehicles,
how absurdly dangerous that was, and how they needed to get special
insurance to drive around simply because human error was so common.
Robotic electric powered broadband controlled speed zone restricted
cars with gps and distance sonar should be the only cars on the road
already i beleive,the technology is there.I just know it is not going
to be long either.
Over did the car bit then,it is all there though,these airplanes
refueling could mean the main task of all air staff could just be
focused on airline security and the planes safety for flight with
everything else virtually taken care of by robot/machines.
Maybe the same should be applied to car refueling,signal a
petrol/electricity unit to re-fuel everyones cars?,not sure about that
one really!,but it could also be applied to getting rid of all the
highway/motorway garages/burger stops etc.,especially if your
broadband sends for a food delivery while travelling?,hamburger
through the sunroof?