Murphy's Law: May 20, 2001

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A new generation of robotic warplanes is taking shape and no one is quite sure how they will work out in actual combat. The next generation of UAVs (Unpiloted Air Vehicles), formerly known as drones or RPVs (Remotely Piloted Vehicles), will be flying soon. They are larger than earlier models, about the same size as the smaller manned warplanes still available. This enables these UCAVs (Unpiloted Combat Air Vehicles) to carry the same weapons and equipment current manned aircraft use. Lacking the cockpit and pilot, the UCAVs are more maneuverable. With more computer power available, the UCAVs can be cut loose from ground control and allowed to operate on their own. Some of these UCAVs will be dropping bombs, and it should be interesting to see the media and public reaction when robot warplanes start killing people. There has not been a lot of stink raised over cruise missiles (robot suicide aircraft, so to speak) killing people. But the new UCAVs will fly out, drop bombs, and return. That may be seen as different, and kick off a campaign against robot warriors. This is a movement waiting to happen, because the "man versus machine" thing has been sitting there for a long time. 

 


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