NewsUnrealEdFilesModsFragBULiandri Archives
BeyondUnreal Forums

Go Back   BeyondUnreal Forums > BeyondUnreal > Off Topic

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 19th Jun 2012, 02:56 AM   #1
Official BUF Birthday Spammer
Manticore's Avatar
Join Date: Nov. 5th, 2003
Location: Optimum Trajectory-Circus of Values
Posts: 4,341
Trial flights of 'unmanned' aircraft begin in UK skies

Trial flights of 'unmanned' aircraft begin in UK skies


Trial flights of 'unmanned' aircraft begin in UK skies

18 June 2012

Test flights have begun to see whether unmanned aircraft could someday be of widespread use in British airspace.

The BAE Systems Jetstream, which will be manned during the test phase, could potentially conduct search missions and investigate weather systems.

BAE believes the aircraft is the first of its kind to autonomously "sense and avoid" bad weather and mid-air hazards.

The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) said "issues" must be resolved to ensure all airspace users are safe.

Unmanned planes or "drones" are already used in the UK for surveillance work.

During up to 20 test flights over the Irish Sea, a pilot and co-pilot will be responsible for the Jetstream's take-offs and landings.

Also aboard will be three people observing and testing the technology - however, the aircraft will fly as if it were an Uninhabited Air Vehicle (UAV).

The new technology - which is far more advanced than a standard passenger aircraft - has been developed by Astraea, a £60m UK industry-led programme which has been running for about six years.

Astraea are funded in part by the Technology Strategy Board, which is sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

BAE says the Astraea system can detect and avoid bad weather systems using an "electronic eye" - a cockpit camera linked to the aircraft's internal computer systems.

The system can recognise cloud types and autonomously plot a course to avoid bad weather.

The electronic eye is also used in conjunction with an aircraft identification antenna to "sense and avoid" mid-air collisions.

Infra-red technology on the underside of the aircraft should also help the Jetstream find a safe place to land in the event of an emergency.

Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, BAE's engineering director with responsibility for the Astraea programme, said: "The [aircraft] has been configured as a 'surrogate UAV', where the onboard pilots can take their hands off the controls and hand over control to the on-board system developed by the Astraea team.

Inside the Jetstream A bank of computers inside the UAV monitor what it "sees" and reacts to any hazards

"Racks of computers and control systems in the rear of the aircraft mean it can fly as if it were [unmanned] without any input from the pilots.

"The weather avoidance system will use sophisticated image processing techniques to detect and avoid clouds and is just one of the new capabilities being tested."

If trials are successful, BAE has said the aircraft could become the first "surrogate" UAV to fly in "normal" UK shared civilian airspace.

The testing has been cautiously welcomed by Balpa, who say they are not entirely opposed to the development of unmanned flight technology.

Capt Mark Searle, Balpa chairman, said: "The most important safety system that we currently have on board aircraft is the eyes and ears of well-trained pilots.

"Such technology... could offer benefits for manned aircraft operations as well, but there are issues which must be resolved first in order to ensure safety for all airspace users."

Mr Searle added that the biggest hurdle to the use of any unmanned aircraft is the public perception of them.

Opponents of the growing use of drones are concerned the public are not being consulted on the rapidly advancing technology and the potential changes on the use of UK airspace.

Chris Cole, from the Drone Wars UK website, which follows the use of armed drones, told the BBC: "There is no parliamentary or public consultation in the UK on this and I believe there is a huge amount of public scepticism.

"The defence industry is part of the Astraea project. They are working with defence companies to see what changes need to be made to airspace regulation to ensure these drones fly safety in the UK.

"There is a big difference between remotely controlled surveillance drones and autonomous drone flights. This is a huge step forward and it is happening too quickly."

BAE's Simon Shrouder estimates that pilotless aircraft could be used within three to five years to investigate weather systems or natural disasters, such as volcanic ash clouds.

He added: "UAV flights could soon be used to do the dull, dirty or dangerous work, that will not put pilot's lives at risk."

Mr Shrouder added however, that pilotless passenger flights are still far from becoming reality.

"In years to come, it might be that confidence is so great that there is scope for passengers to be carried on these flights - but that is many, many years off."

"If you’re going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
Manticore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jun 2012, 06:13 AM   #2
It's time I look back from outer space
Vaskadar's Avatar
Join Date: Feb. 12th, 2008
Location: and face the mirror I still have to face
Posts: 2,540
So the man who poured billions into the skycar is getting to see this automated technology surpass his own?

I find this to be pretty interesting, considering that there was at one point an aircraft which stayed aloft for 6 months without coming into contact with the ground. Crazy thing was solar powered though. Wonder how the guidance systems will play out for this one.

On a related note: Plans for a 5-year solar plane

Last edited by Vaskadar; 19th Jun 2012 at 06:15 AM.
Vaskadar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 19th Jun 2012, 09:01 AM   #3
amateur de bière
Big-Al's Avatar
Join Date: Jun. 14th, 2003
Location: Under a black flag.
Posts: 8,284

I drink moosepiss
Big-Al is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:23 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Copyright ©1998 - 2015, BeyondUnreal
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Bandwidth provided by AtomicGamer