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Another drone down.....

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Another drone down.....

Old 16th Nov 2013, 18:59
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Shot One,
You're quite right. We don't know the answers to those questions - a lot of research and 'beard stroking' is going on to try to do so.

An RPAS does have lookout in normal operations - in many cases potentially better than a FW due to the nature of EVS and TIs. The main issue is trying to define the equivalent artificial lookout to that of the mean aviator. In RPAS this is a reversionary mode assuming the link has been lost and LLL is in effect - for fully autonomous systems this will be vital.

It wasn't my intent to disparage civvy lookout - there are plenty of examples both side of the street of poor or compromised lookout either by over-reliance on navaids or poor design (Tutor canopy arch for example). The problem is that if a RPAS collides with a GA or glider it will invariably be the RPAS that is blamed. RPAS are potentially a revolution in military affairs -we need to be careful that we are not compared to 1930s 'gun club' admirals attempting to defend their 'traditions' by besmirching new ideas and technology.
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Old 16th Nov 2013, 19:24
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
So, not safe enough to fly over civilisation just yet, eh drone fans?
A "locally produced and operated" one came down on the town where I live just a couple of days ago. A couple of blocks away from a royal palace.......although to be fair, everywhere is only a couple of blocks away from one Drone crashes in Al Ain | The National

I was a bit surprised to see it reported in the paper, though
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Old 16th Nov 2013, 23:18
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The 'situational awareness' problem with UAVs is something I've been wrestling with for a while and will do for some time to come.

The project I'm involved in is not as big as a Reaper or Predator but forms the baseline platform for larger vehicles, in terms of systems architecture, as well as being aimed at multiple user scenarios.

Having had some experience of piloting in both the civil and mil domain (all ATC gliding courses available as well as ACPNTS, flying scholarship through GAPAN, staff cadet with 8AEF when they had Bulldogs (I loved aerobatting 'dogs!) and Uni Gliding Club) the concept and advantages of effective situational awareness is familiar to me. I'm clearly not the seasoned pilot many on here are, thanks to eyesight issues, but am happy to learn from everything and everyone.

It seems that the concept of situational awareness is somewhat lacking in unmanned systems. Producing a system that can provide an overview of its local world to help the UAV central computer to make informed decisions would seem to useful.

If people are willing, I'd be very interested in a discussion on Situational Awareness.

How does this post link in to the thread? I wonder how many losses of drones of all sizes are down to poor onboard systems and thus lacking or non-existent decision making processes when humans are not available?

UD
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Old 16th Nov 2013, 23:48
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Unmanned_droid, Situational awareness will vary between types of UAV, However with a fin mounted camera with a wide angle lens, you can have a pretty good view, and if the EO/IR ball is not being used to look at ground targets it can give a forward view as well, and the IR mode allows other nearby powered aircraft to be seen relatively easily.

Obviously you need a good up and downlink and an alert pilot on the ground if you are relying on see and avoid with a human in the loop.

With a fin-mounted IR camera and some software to see and avoid traffic with a sufficient heat signature, you can also avoid some traffic in autonomous modes. That just leaves gliders (inc. hang & para), gas balloons, parachutists, kites and birds to worry about. Additional cameras to cover blind spots are not heavy these days.

It does help to make sure your 'return home' program reflects your current address though :

https://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htairfo/20081229.aspx
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 00:16
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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UD - pm sent. In the meantime, if you haven't seen it, this might be of interest; written by an old mate of mine.....

http://www.gapan.org/file/917/

Albeit written for the US market it does provide some background.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 09:49
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Eval,

PM Replied...

Many thanks for the link - that's my job for today sorted!

Mechta,

That link is going in the lesson learned pile!

To begin with, other aircraft won't be our major problem because of the heights we'll be operating at, however I'm keen to include ADS-B on anything that would be around other aircraft, and also I'm keen to talk to ATC about how we might be able to find new ways to work with ATC on separation / deconfliction.

I certainly think IR cameras are the way forward - how many and how they are arranged is another problem on the 'to solve' pile!

Cheers,

UD
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 10:14
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Drone strikes in Yemen.

I read in one of the papers down here the other day they had attacked targets in the Yemen. There has been sporadic outbreaks of fighting on and off this year in that area.
Amazing really, when you stop and think about it. Unmanned drone aircraft circling the world, armed up and roaming at will. Controlled by technically savvy, rich and rather selfish uncaring countries happy to dish out hellfire as they see fit. Never seems to be seriously questioned by their own side - the morality of this.
I wonder how many totally innocent people have died as a result, and who even cares?
I wonder when a technically savvy and uncaring country will first use one against ourselves one day? I mean in the form of a literal bolt from the blue strike against someone they thought unreasonable.? Its going to happen.

I mean Putin must have a black book the thickness of the yellow pages by now. He must be watching Obamas example and think - why not?


Sorry, carry on with unt technical thread.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 11:56
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Unmanned drone aircraft circling the world, armed up and roaming at will
They don't roam at will - they are flown by people at the end of a long wireless link. Think of it as 'Fly By Wireless' rather than 'Flt By Wire'.

I can only speak for Reaper/Predator as they have forward looking cameras and also the sensor ball can be slewed forward - you can read the registration on a C-17 from 15+ miles. It has a feed from other ground based and air based RADARs that allow the pilot/sensor to get and maintain SA on other aircraft around it. It has its own transponder that other aircraft with TCASI and II can sense. Finally, it files IFR and always talks to an Air Traffic or Fighter Controller, the radio message comes from the aircraft and not the cabin 3-4,000 miles away. They also have telephones, e-mail and access to the classified/unclassified internet. I would say that the SA in a ground control cabin is far, far better than I ever had in a fast jet or any other manned aircraft that I have flown. A final non-cooperative 'sense and avoid' automated system, similar to TCAS but able to detect non-transponding aircraft and linked to an autopilot, is all that is needed now for them to fly in Class G.

I believe many companies are working on this, including a hugely inefficient european conglomorate that has so far squandered £££s and €€€s on the problem.

LJ
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 12:01
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I wonder how many totally innocent people have died as a result, and who even cares?
The Rules of Engagement for a Reaper/Predator are exactly the same as a manned aircraft. The big thing is, as you can see in the post above, that the Reaper/Predator has better situational awareness through its vast array of sensors and intelligence feeds and it can loiter until the target is confirmed - unlike a fast jet that is quickly running out of fuel and will need to go to the tanker within 30 minutes.

I know that the crews care far more than the press would give them credit. After all no-one wants to be accused of illegal acts and being accused of being a war criminal.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 12:25
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I can only speak for Reaper/Predator as they have forward looking cameras and also the sensor ball can be slewed forward - you can read the registration on a C-17 from 15+ miles.
But how was the C-17 spotted in the first place, to allow the operator to zoom in on it?

I'm genuinely curious as I have extensively flown DA42M with backseat operator and with the same FLIR as Reaper. I also have some experience as operator in the back. I would say that just about every time we have spotted a target, whether on the ground, in the air or at sea it is initially spotted by Mk1 eyeball of one of the onboard crew. The field of view and acuity of eyeballs is still way ahead of the sensors and video screens that I have flown with.

Of course, once the target is zapped and locked with the [email protected], and the sensors zoomed in, the detail visible is way better than eyeball. But finding the target in the first instance is almost always requires an eyeball in the loop.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 12:26
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"I certainly think IR cameras are the way forward - how many and how they are arranged is another problem on the 'to solve' pile!"

Agreed....something like this or this perhaps.....?

Not just the camera technology, it's the algorithms behind them that are most challenging. See this to show that people are recognising the problem.

PS - Leon, well put....
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 12:34
  #52 (permalink)  
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A final non-cooperative 'sense and avoid' automated system, similar to TCAS but able to detect non-transponding aircraft and linked to an autopilot, is all that is needed now for them to fly in Class G.
So that's 'all' then....

Not that it'd be much help when one of such non-transponding aircraft is actually out to do some drone-swatting.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 13:50
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I was trying to find an article I read about a drone strike in the Yemen and the impact it had upon an entirely innocent family, but I cant.
But to say it generated a widespread anti-western feeling of bitter resentment would be an understatement.
Yes, roam. That's how it appeared to the family on the ground - no warning, no hint, no ability to control anything at all from their point of view. It was if a mad roaming killer had descended upon them.
How on earth have we got to the position in the world where faceless agencies are carrying out an increasing number of attacks, where many innocent people die? People in sovereign states, countries - minding their own business..
Well, everyone will have them soon -very much in the military-industrial complex to keep this going and expanding as an military arms option into the less wealthier nations budgets - and then well all be flying about zapping one another. I wouldn't gloat upon this, or relish the day it comes.
Off the shelf drones being bought and used by just about anybody, whenever they wish, including corporate enterprise and mercenary forces. Sounds like an American movie but I suspect we are closer to this than I imagine.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 14:00
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HS,
An interesting point; so, if the same family were mis-ID'd using the same sensor from a high flying, unnoticed MANNED platform (for example, a B2...) it would be OK would it? Mistakes will always be made in warfare, particularly this current 'low contrast' conflict where our opponents use this very reticence to hit innocents as a fundamental survival tactic.

If we extend the hypothesis to fully-autonomous weapon systems I agree the thought is a little spine chilling, but that is a long way off. Perhaps the 'middle ground' will be a 'smart' UAV that is RP'd to a release point to permit a LPI penetration of a sophisticated IADS to either conduct recce or strike a precision target autonomously, then recover the link for RTB. Considering the potential LO and performance benefits of having such an unmanned system it will be very attractive to politicians not to have to commit aircrew. Some would argue that it's been done for years (D-21 Tagboard for example...).

Would you rather we still went to war armed with chivalry and silk scarves? War is a nasty business - once committed it should be waged in a manner to end it as soon as possible. Mistakes will ALWAYS be made, Man-in-the -Loop or not.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 14:14
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Presumably the fact that these things have longer loiter time and don't risk a pilot means that they are going to be used more than other aircraft might?

Perhaps they need a loiter time that allows for a court, with a jury and witnesses to decide on the guilt/innocence of everyone who might be killed?
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 14:49
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There are drones, then there are drones and then there are drones.....be careful not to tar them all with the same brush

There are drones (I prefer the term UAV) that are unmanned surveillance aircraft that have a passive role and don't kill anyone unless they crash on their head - a wing-borne spy satellite.

There are UAVs that are used in combat roles in the same way that military aeroplanes are used in combat roles - an unmanned Tornado or Buccaneer that does not put valuable aircrew at risk

Then there are UAVs that are used as an extension of an intelligence agency's capability so that they can be used to assassinate "enemy" personnel on the ground without risking your own people - an unmanned ricin tipped umbrella (Georgi Markov - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The first two I have no trouble with but the last type is a dodgy area and I feel that this kind of use runs the risk of crossing the line between legitimate and illegitimate use - especially when operated by civilian agencies such as the CIA. I like to hope that the country that I hold close to my heart does not do this (it does not feel like the "British" way of doing things) but I have no way of being sure.I wonder also how "Mr Smith" sitting in an airconditioned bunker in California feels when he launches a Hellfire missile at an SUV that may contain civilian non-combatants as well as the intended terrorist target. I could not live with myself in that situation, but maybe I'm just old fashioned in my outlook.

(Note: I appreciate that many UAVs have multirole capabilities so I am really referring to the USE of the machine rather than its design)
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 16:47
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Moggie,
It's often worse for the RPAS pilot; often, he/she may well have spent weeks watching the target going about his normal business, playing with his kids etc whilst the case to strike is built up. It's a bit different rocking up in a GR4 for a GPS drop as you fly by at 420+kts....

Pretty balanced article here....
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 17:26
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A good article - and one which highlights some of the complexities and surreal elements of the job.

I do feel that these machines should only be in the hands of military operators (or ex-military reservists working for the military) tasked and managed in the same way as those hypothetical GR4s and NOT operated by civilian agencies.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 19:13
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Intresting Russian view here.

Russian weapons chief promises ?no-contact warfare? by 2020 ? RT Russian politics

"No contact" warfare. Also describes the project attracting "all sorts of vultures" which I am presuming he means arms dealers or worse (if there are worse).

Another arms race seems earnestly in progress.

My apologies if posted before.

And also another drone thingy has crashed today, this time onto a ship, according to this bit..maybe this is a first?

http://rt.com/usa/drone-crashes-missile-cruiser-852/

Last edited by Hangarshuffle; 17th Nov 2013 at 20:20.
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Old 17th Nov 2013, 20:21
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^^^ That report includes the statement:-

In late 2012, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that military spending in 2013 would be over 1.3 trillion rubles ($43 billion), a rise of 50 percent from 2012.
and there was me thinking the Russian economy was in as parlous condition as the UK's...
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