Who says you need a pilot

bigr

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UPDATE: PILOTLESS AIRCRAFT STILL MISSING IN SONOMA COUNTY
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department has suspended its aerial search for a pilotless plane that took off this afternoon with its pilot watching helplessly from the airstrip.

The search using with the Sheriff's Department helicopter was stopped at about 7:20 p.m. and will resume at daybreak, Lt. Rich Sweeting said. He said the runaway plane -- a tandem, two-seat light aircraft -- had enough fuel to stay aloft for about two hours.

"The assumption is that the aircraft has crashed, although I can't confirm that,'' Sweeting said tonight.

According to the Sheriff's Department, the plane's owner was out of the aircraft with the throttle on at about 4:30 p.m. when it broke loose from its moorings and lifted off from a small farm airstrip in the Two Rock area in southwest Sonoma County. The owner may have been working on the plane while warming it up, Sweeting said.

The plane's owner immediately contacted the Sheriff's Department on his cell phone as he tracked the aircraft with his car, Sweeting said.

About three hours ago, the Sheriff's Department said the plane was spotted near Petaluma heading northeast toward Sonoma Mountain.

Earlier tonight, the California Highway Patrol, which was assisting in the search using its own fixed-wing aircraft, notified the Sheriff's Department that it received a signal from an emergency locator transmitter in an area about 4 miles east of Petaluma.

As of 8:30 p.m., no wreckage had been found, and no citizens had reported a crash, Sweeting said. He said the relative dearth of fuel aboard the aircraft would mean that the chances of fire in a crash would be "pretty slim,'' making a crash of the small plane even less auspicious.

The Sheriff's Department identified the aircraft is an Aeronca Champion, a high-wing plane with a 30-100 horsepower engine, that was originally manufactured in the '40s and '50s.

"Luckily in Sonoma County there are a lot of wide-open areas,'' Sweeting said of a possible crash. "Most of the acreage in Sonoma County is not populated.''
 

BigFlyr

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Just goes to show you that an airplane will fly itself! All a pilot has to do is keep it from crashing!
 

FN FAL

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I think you are right, but not all "pilots" have to be "in" the planes to keep them from crashing. They'll be able to program landings and takeoffs pretty soon. Then they will figure out a way to up the speed of computers making these drones more autonomous. There's too many people working on this stuff, to think it won't affect us sooner or later. Thanks to technology, we'll soon be free to do the things we would rather be doing...

CIVIL DEFENCE: Planes without pilots soar into danger
Published on May 23, 2005

Be it a heavy storm, mudslide or forest fire, there will soon be no need to risk officials’ lives by sending them into dangerous areas to retrieve information. Instead of humans, a small unmanned aircraft could be sent to take aeriel photos in high-risk areas.

Thanks to a development by Mahanakorn University, areas that have been hit by natural disasters can be photographed and the information sent to a mobile centre quickly without the need to risk human life. At the same time, quick emergency assistance can be given.

Somnuk Nimnual, a lecturer at the privately run Mahanakorn University’s Physics Department, said that the objective of the project has been to build an aerial vehicle that is capable of rapidly and effectively surveying natural-resource deposits as well as areas that have been damaged by natural disasters.

The aircraft has a control unit that works as the heart of the vehicle, directing other systems. The unit controls not only the speed when on patrol but also directs the plane’s rudder, a hinged vertical airfoil mounted at the tail of the aircraft and used to make horizontal course changes on the fly.

“There are various parts involved to control the small plane. We use a remote control when the plane is about to launch and to land. At other times it flies automatically since the control unit takes care of the rest,” said Somnuk.

Before being sent out to perform any duty in specific areas, information of those areas including digital maps and co-ordinates are uploaded to the controller unit. Equipped with a GPS (global positioning system) antenna, the plane will fly using information about its location incorporated with what it has been programmed to follow.

“The area that needs to be surveyed is marked in spots. The plane will know where to go first and where to turn when it completes the loop that is assigned,” he said.

Somnuk said that from the starting point, the plane takes pictures of the area using a video camera.

Those waiting for the results at the mobile unit can choose to have the digital image data in real time or retrieve it later when the plane lands. “Images can be sent to a mobile unit using low frequencies or can be stored in a computer on the plane,” he said.

The unmanned plane’s wings are two metres in length and it can fly at between 50 kph and 120 kph. It flies 1,500 feet above the ground. Expecting to bring the aircraft into practical use, the team is looking to develop more software to control its flight.
 

Traderd

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FN FAL said:
I think you are right, but not all "pilots" have to be "in" the planes to keep them from crashing. They'll be able to program landings and takeoffs pretty soon. Then they will figure out a way to up the speed of computers making these drones more autonomous. There's too many people working on this stuff, to think it won't affect us sooner or later. Thanks to technology, we'll soon be free to do the things we would rather be doing...
That has been done for quite a while now. Fully autonomus operation from take off to touch down and I believe even the taxi. Transcon also.

Take a look at the Global Hawk and X-45(maybe renamed by now). Interesting technology.
 

FN FAL

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Traderd said:
That has been done for quite a while now. Fully autonomus operation from take off to touch down and I believe even the taxi. Transcon also.

Take a look at the Global Hawk and X-45(maybe renamed by now). Interesting technology.
Someday, an air disaster will occur and they won't be able to hang the pilots, just the programers! :D

I wonder if autonomous aircraft will ever call in to work sick?

"Hello...Operations? I can't make it into work today, because I have a bad code!"
 

propsarebest

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SWEEEET avatar BIGR- my grandpappy was a F/E on the B-36. Six turning and four burning and sometimes ten burning!
 

A Squared

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bigr said:
He said the relative dearth of fuel aboard the aircraft would mean that the chances of fire in a crash would be "pretty slim,'' making a crash of the small plane even less auspicious.
Hmmmm, absence of a fire would make the crash less fortunate or prosperous? Wonder if they really meant "conspicuous" ? pretty sad when you have people who are (in theory at least) professional writers who use the language incorrectly, and thier editors don't catch it either.

aus·pi·cious adj.
  1. Attended by favorable circumstances; propitious: an auspicious time to ask for a raise in salary. Marked by success; prosperous.
 

Traderd

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FN FAL said:
Someday, an air disaster will occur and they won't be able to hang the pilots, just the programers! :D

I wonder if autonomous aircraft will ever call in to work sick?

"Hello...Operations? I can't make it into work today, because I have a bad code!"
I'm trying not to laugh, but it's not working:)
 
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