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Robotics The Military Hardware

US Navy Developing App-Summoned Robotic Helicopter 69

Posted by samzenpus
from the johnny-copter dept.
Zothecula writes "We may be closer to the day when United States Marines will, within a matter of minutes, use a handheld app to summon robotic helicopters to deliver battlefield supplies. On Tuesday, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced its five-year, US$98 million Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program, with the specific aim of developing 'sensors and control technologies for robotic vertical take-off and landing aircraft.'" Last month we covered NATO's robotic helicopter, the K-MAX.
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US Navy Developing App-Summoned Robotic Helicopter

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  • Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:59PM (#38679868)

    Robots, making war easier for the public to swallow. It's less icky to wage war when you can send robots instead of people. But of course, these will only be used to "deliver battlefield supplies." Wink.

    • Re:Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:09PM (#38679984)

      Karmawhoring with veiled anti-war sarcasm is always effective on slashdot, so I don't blame you. But really though, war is about maximizing tactical and strategic advantages, be it the bow and arrow, be it armor, be it castles, be it gunpowder, be it airplanes. What's the alternative, stagnation? Relinquishing war while others do not?

      • by ae1294 (1547521)

        Karmawhoring with veiled anti-war sarcasm is always effective on slashdot, so I don't blame you. But really though, war is about maximizing tactical and strategic advantages, be it the bow and arrow, be it armor, be it castles, be it gunpowder, be it airplanes. What's the alternative, stagnation? Relinquishing war while others do not?

        WTF is with these posts. I get flamebait and troll posts every other time and my karma has never dropped from excellent? Is 'their' (heh) another level called hivemind or are all of you full of stonework filled shit

      • by bonch (38532) *

        But really though, war is about maximizing tactical and strategic advantages, be it the bow and arrow, be it armor, be it castles, be it gunpowder, be it airplanes.

        All of those technologies require humans. The point is that robots allow warfare without risk, making it more palatable for a normally war-weary public. It's just an observation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by peragrin (659227)

      *Iran Likes this*

      Just remember drones can be jammed, intercepted, or hacked. It is a whole lot harder to hack mark one eyeballs remotely.

      • by qxcv (2422318)

        Just remember drones can be jammed, intercepted, or hacked.

        Claims Iranian state television...

        It is a whole lot harder to hack mark one eyeballs remotely.

        In Australia, high power laser pointers are banned for exactly this reason. If humans can be blinded by an off-the-shelf laser, how well are they going to fare against bullets?

        • by Dunbal (464142) *

          If humans can be blinded by an off-the-shelf laser

          You are confusing actual humans being blinded with overprotective laws made "out of an abundance of caution".

          • by inpher (1788434)
            I can't speak for Australia, but in Sweden as recently as dec 2, 2011 a co-pilot had to be taken to the ER after his plane was hit by green laser.
            • by Dunbal (464142) *
              Taken to the ER does not mean he was blinded. In fact if you follow up you will see that nothing happened to this pilot at all, other than strict compliance with recommendations from his union.
      • The current and known Drone models are vulnerable to AA systems and manned fighters.However, the latest versions are improving thier stealth capabilities to reduce these weaknesses. The US may already have advanced drone stealth capabilities that they have managed to keep classified. Your comment claiming vulnerability to hacks and jamming require proof without conjecture, theory, and hearsay. Can you produce any evidence that any US drone has succumbed to these typse of attacks without using Iranian statem
      • by Kvasio (127200)

        It is a whole lot harder to hack mark one eyeballs remotely.

        Don't underestimate the power of microwaves.

    • Re:Robots (Score:5, Informative)

      by inhuman_4 (1294516) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:47PM (#38680484)

      Robots, making war easier for the public to swallow. It's less icky to wage war when you can send robots instead of people.

      It's also less likely to make mistakes and kill innocent people. For those of you who don't know most casualties in war are civilians. The civilian casualty ratio [wikipedia.org] for recent wars has averaged 10 civilians for every combatant. The reasons are many but is basically boils down to who takes what risks.

      When a soldier is in a combat zone he has to make a shoot/no-shoot choice for every person he sees. Now of course in a combat zone people are running on adrenaline, they are often exhausted, the situation is chaos, and the stakes are life and death. So if you are a soldier and you see someone, how sure are you going to be that they are not a civilian before you shoot? And remember if you are wrong, you die.

      A good example is this story [guardian.co.uk]. It is easy to lay blame after the fact. But imagine you are in that chopper, you have had RPGs shot at you all day, and then you see someone in a van pointing a black tube like thing at you. What are you going to do?

      But probably the biggest cause is long range weapons like artillery and air strikes. Sometimes sending in people on the ground would be suicide, so you have to use less accurate weapons like artillery and air strikes even though they cause more civilian casualties. This need to minimize your own casualties it just part of how war works, and it always has. The point of war is not to die for your side, but to make the other guy die for his.

      With drones however the game changes because you can send a drone on a suicide mission instead of firing artillery. You can have a drone wait and verify that it is a camera and not an RPG. Yes drones will make mistakes, probably a lot of mistakes, but humans only get it right 10% of the time anyway. So please don't pretend that the bar is so high that it will never work.

      The argument against drones is like an argument against smart bombs. They get the job done faster, cheaper, and with less casualties for all sides. But then some people will argue against it anyway because its popular to be anti-anything-military.

      • by hitmark (640295)

        And this is why Police and Military are two different jobs...

      • Something that you're overlooking: The insurgents are actively attempting to get us to accidentally kill civilians. We *know* that this is a Tactic/Technique/Procedure (TTP) that they're using. They hide behind civilians, or wear civilian clothing and shoot at us, then hide the weapons when we return fire. They are actively attempting to make it look like we're killing civilians for their Information Operations (IO) campaign. Of course, the liberals don't deal with reality, they prefer the "American soldie
      • Re:Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wdef (1050680) on Friday January 13, 2012 @05:34AM (#38683730)

        The point of war is not to die for your side, but to make the other guy die for his.

        Not quite right. The point of war is to maim and wound the other side's guys, not kill. This is because every maimed and wounded soldier sucks up many times his own resources in being evacuated and cared for. There are figures for this and it came up not long ago on /..

        The following analogy occurs to me. The most effective disease does not kill its host, at least not too quickly, before it can spread to new hosts while burning out the original host's resources. So the best (worst) war is an effective disease.

        • I was trying to quote Patton but got the wording wrong it should have read:

          “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.”

          But you are right in that it is often better to wound than kill. According the Clausewitz the purpose of war is to remove your opponents will to resist you (I cannot find the quote so those may not be the exact words). The actual killing or wounding is just a means to an end. Ideally you can win without fighting through intimidation, diplomacy, etc.

          This is a large reason why the fighting of Islamic radicals is so difficult. They f

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        I find it hard to believe the ratios are that bad - even when in this case the enemy is notorious for using human shields. (Unless the ratio is including victims of terror attacks)

    • by hitmark (640295)

      That and setting up the social system so that enlisting is a "good" choice for people one previously would have to draft.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Robots, making war easier for the public to swallow.

      Not just that - making it more cost effective.

      Mankind has been making wars as long as we have written or oral history, and logistics has almost always been the decisive factor. The more effective your logistics, the more effective your front-line fighters. In this case, the most obvious benefit is that you don't need to risk/waste helicopter pilots on supply missions. Then you can either save a ton of money on training helicopter pilots or you can train more of them to be fighters - either way it is a win.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Iran has announced that they are most pleased with this plan and eagerly anticipate the arrival of supplies provided by the U.S. military.

    • by oheso (898435)
      This. It's only a matter of time.
      • by wdef (1050680)
        A war with Iran would not at all be like the invasion of Iraq. Iran is a geographically huge, relatively developed country with money, technology and enormous military resources. Invading Iran would not work out well. That is why the US hasn't done it and probably never will.
      • by Adriax (746043)

        Tamper proof system on the access panels, breaks vials of a weak stinkbomb if someone opens the panel without knowing exactly how. Stick a note with "Next one will be filled with nerve gas" inside the drone too.
        Next drone fill with a stronger stinkbomb.

        Wouldn't be long before word got around to the rank and file soldiers that the crazy americans are filling their drones with nerve gas, none of them would touch a downed drone.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously, where is my pizza delivered by the slice from helo-drones?

    pizza delivered by the slice probably isn't feasible with various delivery costs, but presumably it would be with drones. So why not already? Being able to order pizza by the slice economically via drones might be what saves American from getting too fat. Or not, but it couldn't hurt right?

    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      Fuel efficiency of any aerial drone capable of delivering pizza slices to a door is far worse than one of a truck.

  • Correct headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:14PM (#38680054) Homepage

    US Navy developing remote controlled robotic helicopter.

    Let's not start pretending that an "app" is a real thing, distinct from technologies which already existed.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by qxcv (2422318)

      But this *is* distinct from current technologies. TFA says that the navy want the helicopter to land automatically as close as possible to the soldier. Given that it will probably be landing under heavy fire and in difficult terrain, this is no small feat. It's not an app to "fly a helicopter", it's an app to tell a helicopter to fly itself, and the latter part is what's so exciting.

  • It never ends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fullback (968784) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:15PM (#38680070)

    The technology of endless wars, one after another. How about a handheld app to deliver medical or other emergency supplies to accidents, natural disasters, etc.?

    Ask an American to rattle off a chronology of American history and the time unit will be wars. War after war. Ask them to describe American culture and you'll get a blank stare.

    • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:44PM (#38680438)

      How about ... medical or other emergency supplies to accidents, natural disasters, etc.?

      You mean, the way the US military regularly and directly does all around the world, and likewise supports/provides security as others do?

      The technology of endless wars

      All the technology does is make conflict less capriciously deadly in ways that don't get the job done. What you're really bitching about is the fact that the world isn't entirely done, yet, with having conflicts like those in the Balkans or the middle east impact the rest of the world. You're annoyed that places like North Korea would, in fact, immediately roll their special kind of socialist paradise right over South Korea if they weren't sure that Really Bad Military Things would happen to them. I'm sorry that annoys you. Do you have another proposal for containing them? Would you prefer a lower-tech approach, and just line up more troops on the ground, and perhaps some mounted cavalry, to confront their long-range artillery? Maybe some a nice four-mast wooden ship or two to confront the sub they used to sink a South Korean naval vessel?

      Ask them to describe American culture and you'll get a blank stare.

      How would you describe European culture? Thousands of years of war, there. Perhaps African culture? Eons of tribal butchery. The Far East? Central Asia? Please, do go on.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Ask them to describe American culture and you'll get a blank stare."

      That's completely offensive! I demand an apology.

      We have NASCAR, Jersey Shore, and the Kardashian sisters!

      • by wdef (1050680)

        Satire aside, the US also produced huge lumps of the world's best culture of the 18-20C, though it's true some it was produced by European emigres who moved to America. The US displays a talent for absorbing foreign forms and re-working these into things of great energy and popularity and engaging in cross-pollination of art and music with the Old World.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:53PM (#38680560) Journal

    ...to hack into that.

    • by wdef (1050680)
      George Lucas (Verb) Lucasing, Lucased (a) The act of committing graphics overkill. The definition in your sig neglects to mention drowning stilted dialog (and the audience) in the endless, overbearing, overloud strains of John William's pompous maudlin violins.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        ...or that Williams stole most of his musical ideas from classic composers. You're right, but there's only so much room in a sig.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Killer App.

  • $98 Million...I could swear I've seen a video of some DIY hacker building one for like $30. Maybe a REALLY BIG one would cost around $2,000. What, on earth, could they be spending this much cash on?!

    R&D is great and all, but this seems pretty ridiculous--even if it is the US Govt.'s status quo.

    • by retchdog (1319261)

      $30, huh? quite a feat since the "off the shelf" helicopter alone costs ~$3 million.

      yes, i'm sure that someone's tinkering with a remote control toy from brookstone will directly port over to staging a military helicopter in a live combat situation on unknown terrain.

      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        The larger it is, the more FAA (and foreign equivalents...) paperwork you have to deal with.

        Paperwork and certifications are a large part of the cost of large aircraft - in many cases the technical challenges aren't great, it's proving to the bureaucracy that your technical solution won't become a flaming fireball in a schoolyard somewhere.

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @10:59PM (#38681762) Homepage

    "Get to da choppa!"

  • How long until they'll come with machine cannons or AGMs so ground troops can call in air support?
    Of course, weapons release will require suitable human authorization... until we have AIs that can do a better/faster/cheaper job.

  • by squidflakes (905524) on Friday January 13, 2012 @01:23PM (#38688182) Homepage

    1986 - The movie Aliens features a scene where an android remotely pilots a drop ship to deliver supplies and evac a group of beleaguered Marines.

    2012 - The United States Navy allocates funds to research a system where you can remotely call for a robotic helicopter to deliver supplies to beleaguered Marines via your Android phone.

  • New ~$300 Parrot AR Drone (which is already well on its way to being able to successfully "control technologies for robotic vertical take-off and landing aircraft"): $300.

    Cost of a "Navy" badge, some long range sensors, military durability, scripts to automate the process: $97,999,700.

    *golf clap*

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