It seems to me that “sense and avoid” technology is the gaiting factor for wide-spread adoption and deployment of unmanned vehicles. What caught my eye when reading the FAA’s future requirements to allow unmanned aircraft in to the field was that the responsibility of “sense and avoid” technology was going to solely lie at the feet of those developing unmanned aircraft.
Manned aircraft being developed for future generations would not have this responsibility, which seems a bit one-sided. I mean, if they are all going to be up in the air together, shouldn’t they all be required to have the same capabilities to avoid collision? Last week, Unmanned Systems News covered a story about Robotic Agent Command and Sensing (CARACaS) technology. A pilot program for installing sensors and software on existing Navy manned patrol craft and convert them to unmanned surface vehicles. During a recent demonstration in August, the USVs escorted a “high-value” ship and then encircled a threat-representative vessel to block it from the high-value asset. As many as 13 unmanned boats — five autonomous, eight remote-controlled — participated at one time. According to the article CARACaS allows unmanned boats to plan their routes and sense and avoid each other. A single sailor can oversee the entire swarm. This is another example of how unmanned vehicles can be developed to help keep soldiers out of harm’s way. Had this technology been developed, it could have prevented the October 2000 deadly terrorist attack on the USS Cole, in which a small boat detonated explosives near the destroyer off the coast of Yemen.
Great to see such innovation happening in unmanned naval vehicles. Check out a video of the demonstration.