Drone Pilots to Control Four Planes at Once: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK4nh5I0jpE[/youtube]

So soon on the heels of this week’s disclosure that seventeen percent of US drone pilots show signs of clinical distress and the debacle of the RQ-170 Sentinel drone being recovered and put on display by Iran, today’s latest announcement on drones reads like a piece from The Onion or Andy Borowitz.  In what appears to be all seriousness, the US is looking into the possibility of single drone operators controlling as many as four drones at one time:

Western militaries are experimenting with having future drone pilots command up to four aircraft at once, adding new potential challenges even as a top-secret U.S. drone’s crash in Iran exposed the risks of flying unmanned aircraft thousands of miles away.

And why would such a foolish move be necessary?  Why, it all comes down to insatiable demand for drone use and a military that wants to cut back on costs:

To save money and make unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) less reliant on massive ground support crews, weapons manufacturers are working with military officials to develop more autonomous control systems and improve networking among planes.

At the moment, it can take hundreds of support staff on the ground to run a single drone for 24 hours, adding cost and complications at a time when budget-cutters are looking for billions of dollars of program cuts.

But new high-tech networking systems and ground stations in development would let a single pilot fly four drones, possibly even from different manufacturers, dramatically reducing the ground staff now needed for each plane.

Early work on such systems has been going on for some time, but heavy demand for more drones and mounting budget pressures are now bringing them closer to operational use.

If the US does institute such a foolish practice, let’s just hope none of the stressed out operators decide to channel their inner Charlie Callas.

Tweet about this on Twitter7Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook8Google+0Email to someone

24 Responses to Drone Pilots to Control Four Planes at Once: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
  • 18
  • 19
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @Johngcole It's not enough; Madam Secretary is horrible.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro I'm going to ask @Ali_Gharib to come out here and work with me and try to restore my patriotism.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @NoahShachtman: The US just simultaneously bombed opposing sides in a war. That's how f'ing crazy this #Syria conflict is.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Now @CNN expert saying how amazing how pinpointed ISIS in so many locations. Cause, you know, we'd never blast a bunch of innocent civilians
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz "Military expert" on @CNN says "important to note tonight is bigger than before". Pee Wee Herman could give better analysis.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin Totally.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Definitely sparkly though.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @LegallyErin They need to give Mary Louise Parker her finger back.#Blacklist
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SeriousOne1975 @csoghoian Not sure yet. Am just starting to shop.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, golly, I'd like to and all, as you know, but not so much.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Merriiman No, we will starve and erode every other aspect of our society to make sure we keep the might. It's all that matters now.
5hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @rdevro @Ali_Gharib Well, that makes it super legal IHL/IHRL then!
5hreplyretweetfavorite
December 2011
S M T W T F S
« Nov   Jan »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031