Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Firescout, Taking a Break From Scouting

Oh goodie; let's do my favorite - quote myself. From June of last year;
There is one thing they do not like to talk about though, and that is the loss rate. The first I heard of the problem was about eight years ago when going over Navy UAS (nee UAV) options as part of a planning group. We had a nice civilian engineer as part of our team, forget who he was with, who - darn it - had all these facts with him about loss rates and maintenance requirements based on present UAS experience. I think he was working on UAS back well before I even had a license to drive. He kept telling us that our numbers were bad as we were not making allowances for loss rates and the need for replacements.

He also kept reminding us that - darn it - we were overestimating the ability of these systems to carry all the kit we wanted them to. We weren't - darn it - fully examining range and altitude losses from the type of mission packages being proposed. Our lack of a discussion about bandwidth access also bothered him.
... and so, here we go.
Operations of the MQ-8B Fire Scout will be suspended “for the indefinite future,” after the robo-copters were involved in two recent crashes. The news was first reported by FlightGlobal.com, and confirmed by Danger Room.

On March 30th, off the coast of west Africa, a technical glitch kept one Fire Scout from being able to land on the U.S.S. Simpson. “After multiple approaches and exhaustive troubleshooting by operators, the aircraft was positioned a safe distance from U.S.S. Simpson and the flight was terminated,” the Navy says in a statement. The Fire Scout dropped into the ocean, and then was recovered by the ship’s crew.

Days later, on April 6th, another one of the robo-copters appears to have crashed during surveillance operations in northern Afghanistan. “The cause of the crash is unknown at this time,” according to the Navy. But “in light of the recent mishaps, the Navy has temporarily suspended Fire Scout flight operations for 14 air vehicles in inventory while system performance and operational procedures are reviewed.”
Again ... you need to spend more time talking about the reality of loss rate .... if you don't think seriously about the problems of UAS because you are in love with the concept of removing the man from the loop - then you will seriously put yourself in the position of suggesting something as stupid as this;
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that allows a camera and computer to recognize the hand signals sailors use to guide unmanned aerial vehicles around the flight deck, a feat that could eventually enable sailors to move a UAV with little more than a wave.

It’s a step in answering one of the biggest challenges in unmanned naval aviation: how to control a UAV on a hectic flight deck while maintaining the cycle of launches and recoveries and keeping everyone safe.

“It would be really nice if we had an unmanned vehicle that can understand human gestures,” said Yale Song, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT who developed a system. His work is the UAV equivalent of an aviation boatswain’s mate flashing hand signals to pilots before a launch and after a trap. In effect, he’s developed a way for a UAV to “see” the signals and identify the commands the signals represent.

“Gesturing is an instinctive skill we all have, so it requires little or no thought, leaving the focus on the task itself, as it should be, not on the interaction modality,” Song and his colleagues wrote in a paper that appears in the March issue of ACM Transaction on Interactive Intelligent Systems, an academic journal.
UCAV-N Deck Handling Gesture Recognition Problem Statement

What could go wrong?

1 comment:

NAnonymous said...

This is why I am extremely skeptical about UAVs aboard carriers. ACLS is not reliable (ask pretty much every carrier aviator who's found themselves at 2 miles and gotten a drop-lock).