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Discussion on Autonomous Aerial Refueling

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posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 07:56 AM
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a reply to: aholic

They show quit a bit of it in this video:





posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:00 PM
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a reply to: Sammamishman

Very cool. And a little extra treat at the end there!


Just with Pegasus and the current B model and the planned larger C model coming down the pipe, it seems tough for me to see the other firms catching up in any effective way. Grumman has the generations long experience with carrier based aircraft that other companies are without. I think they are at a major advantage here, not to mention a head start. Of course there's going to be lots of discourse next year about all of this but with the aggressive start off the blocks for NG is looking good.

NG is currently getting more money for their testing of UCAS-N than any other company.

Navy Could Test Aerial Refueling on X-47B in 2015



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:14 PM
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a reply to: aholic

NG will be partnered with whoever wins. Their control system will go into it.



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:21 PM
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I don't get why these new stealth drones having ports for in-air refueling is so amazing?

It seems like a natural evolution of the technology to me. I'd be surprised if they didn't possess the capability to be refueled mid flight actually. What good is a stealth drone that can't loiter for any length of time?

I have a robot that cleans my floors, so a robotic system funded by the government with NG, Boeing, Lockheed, DARPA and others doesn't seem very revolutionary to me.

I'm either hard to impress or woefully ignorant.



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:25 PM
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a reply to: MystikMushroom

Trained pilots sitting in the cockpit have trouble with inflight refueling. It's one of the hardest things to do in flight. To do it autonomously, or with remote control is even harder.



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:37 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

One would think LIDAR/GPS and other computerized navigational systems would be far more accurate than the human eyeball...also robotics in theory would be far more accurate than a human's hand on the stick for micro corrections to the pitch/yaw?

I can see the programming being a huge feat to overcome, but the existing and white-world technology is there on the shelf to make it a reality, nevermind the black world computerized systems that exist...

Or maybe I give way to much credit to the machines...



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:44 PM
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a reply to: MystikMushroom

I'm with you actually. The technology doesn't impress me so, except that I think we've only seen the beginning of LIDAR. And I WILL be following that progression, that tech can be very useful elsewhere.

It's the doctrinal shift that will occur that is so exciting. It's a new capability, of course is comes as no surprise to anyone like yourself, that will change areal warfare. Tactics will evolve, crews will adapt and I would like to see how that all unfolds. In a modern theater such as the Pacific, capacities like this are almost prerequisite.



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 02:58 PM
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a reply to: MystikMushroom

There are two dozen little things the programming has to deal with. Turbulence, the tanker entering or exiting a turn, etc. It's not as simple as flying up to the tanker and hooking up. Both aircraft are constantly moving up and down, and back and forth even when level.

There was a platform lost because the pilot made one tiny error and couldn't recover from it.
edit on 12/18/2014 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 03:09 PM
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..... Also anything new in aviation is exciting.




posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 03:18 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

And I can imagine that just the nature of ... well nature (air gusts and whatnot) make it difficult.

With the advent of AI and learning machines, it would seem well within the realm of possibility that we could have a learning computer program that could practice link ups over and over in a safe test zone for months, even years to get the hours of training in needed. Then, this program/software could be copied and distributed to all of the UAV's and refueling tankers out there. Train one and your done kind of thing.



posted on Dec, 18 2014 @ 11:36 PM
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a reply to: MystikMushroom

Great idea. Drone boning....jump to 2:00.

thecolbertreport.cc.com...



posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 07:12 PM
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You guys have pretty much nailed it why it has a receptacle and a probe. Because of the former Air Force/Navy program. Now that its just navy they will probably just put the probe on it.

However, one thing we learned during all the test flights is that it is sooooooo much easier to get a drone to autonomously fly in a "flight envelope" where it can make small mistakes (ie telescoping, azimuth, elevation changes with the tanker) using lidar and whatever else they come up with. Which is why the boom/receptacle approach worked out so much better than the probe/drogue approach. With the boom/receptacle approach, the boom operator can control all the movements of that boom and make the contact by flying the boom into the receptacle. Easier said than done with a UAV but you get the idea.

Having a boom operator doing all the work and having the UAV just needing to fly at a certain speed, altitude, ect 12 feet behind the tanker for contact is way easier than having a UAV try to put its probe into a drogue. Hell there are superhornet pilots that have difficulty making a contact with a drogue. You should see them try to stab at that damn thing sometimes. lol.

And thats where the difficulty has lived. At first it was how do you get a drone that is being flown from a guy around the world, where even with cameras there is going to be a satellite delay, to put his probe in a drouge that is constantly making up/down and left/right minor movements at all time. Then with autonomy, it was hell lets just build these damn super computers that can make a trillion corrections a second to the flight controls and install them in these stealthy platforms.

I've said this since my very first contact in boom school...I never, as a boom, want to be in a position where i don't have absolute control over every aspect of in-flight refueling. With receiver pilots we can use "breakaways" where if the boom says that over the air there is no questioning the order. The boom operator disconects, retracts the boom and flies it up and out of the way, at the same time saying over the air "(Tanker call sign), BREAKAWAY, BREAKAWAY, BREAKAWAY" and manually flashes every pilot director light we have under the aircraft in case of comm failure. The tanker pilot full throttles the engines and the receiver drops a thousand feet in five seconds at idle.

So how does a UAV know when theres a breakaway? what if it doesnt follow precedure? Lots of problems that had to be answered and most of them were. Even with the Lear jets acting as stand in UAV's in full autonomous mode we had problems with them closing from fifty feet behind us to 12 feet. They kept creeping closer and closer after getting to the 12 foot mark. At ten feet the boom, if in auto, will automatically disconnect anyway so it was hard to make a contact at 12 feet and watch them keep sliding closer and closer wondering if they would stop.

Anyway, I've ragged on too much for now. lol



posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 07:29 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

That's going to make things interesting. For years to refuel Hornets the navy was required to use buddy pods. We went through so many drogues we couldn't keep count. The Hornet pilots would finish tanking, and instead of backing out, they'd drop straight down without disconnecting.



posted on Dec, 24 2014 @ 09:17 PM
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originally posted by: aholic
a reply to: MystikMushroom

I'm with you actually. The technology doesn't impress me so, except that I think we've only seen the beginning of LIDAR. And I WILL be following that progression, that tech can be very useful elsewhere.


Lacrosse, anyone? Or other, similar games?



posted on Dec, 25 2014 @ 08:52 AM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: boomer135

That's going to make things interesting. For years to refuel Hornets the navy was required to use buddy pods. We went through so many drogues we couldn't keep count. The Hornet pilots would finish tanking, and instead of backing out, they'd drop straight down without disconnecting.


Now imagine that with the "iron maiden" drogue the 135 has. It's not collapsible like buddy pods and the 10s drogue. It's all metal. Lol



posted on Dec, 25 2014 @ 09:05 AM
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a reply to: boomer135

Yeah, that's why they kept breaking the damn thing. The'd snap that ring every time and it would have to be rebuilt. This is going to be fun to watch. And expensive.



posted on Dec, 25 2014 @ 10:41 PM
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a reply to: Bedlam

Lol



posted on Dec, 26 2014 @ 05:56 AM
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a reply to: Bedlam

Is Oynx a game? Lol



posted on Dec, 26 2014 @ 03:48 PM
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They've been using lidar for years already on the planes mapping the Amazon and other rain forests. They can shoot it all the way through the foilage to the bottom. That's how they keep finding all these unexplored ruins and stuff that normally they would never have found because of how thick it is



posted on Dec, 27 2014 @ 10:09 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

That's super cool - thanks for the anecdote. Other unfortunate uses result in my girlfriend constantly getting speeding tickets.....




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