Monday, May 20, 2013

Calling the ball

A follow-up to my paean to our future automated overbeings: the X-47B has now almost landed on an aircraft carrier without a human pilot:

What you just saw was two simulated wave-offs--when an aircraft setting up for a landing is told to break off the approach and go around for another try--and then two "touch-and-go" landings. Those simulate what is called a "bolter," when an aircraft landing on a carrier misses all of the cables designed to catch its tailhook and bring it to a safe stop.

Yes, it's a beautiful day for flying and calm seas, but note that the X-47 nails the centerline. After watching this, an actual landing seems like just a baby step for robotkind.

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