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Hit the Wrong Button, Drone Goes Boom

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the my-controller-ran-out-of-batteries dept.

The Military 129

ios and web coder writes "An article at Ars notes, 'Unmanned aircraft crash. In fact, they crash a lot—though there's no recent specific data, the Congressional Research Service reported last year that despite improvements, "the accident rate for unmanned aircraft is still far above that of manned aircraft.' And while many of those accidents can be attributed to being exposed to hostile fire or operating in conditions when aircraft normally wouldn't, a significant percentage of drone crashes is caused by human error. A December 2004 FAA study of Defense Department drone crashes found human factors to be a causal factor in about a third of the cases they examined (PDF).' Drones are un-cheap. As yesterday's Super Hornet story noted, they are cheaper than manned planes... but not that much cheaper. Expect them to get more expensive. Also, as they get armed, the price paid for a bad UX decision could become quite tragic."

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129 comments

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I know why. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050351)

It's who they have flying these things [mtv.com] . You would think they could do better.

Re:I know why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050401)

MTV.com is designed for use within the USA so a lot of the site, including most of the videos, won't work for visitors from outside the country. You're welcome to come in and check it out, but for a better experience we recommend you visit your local MTV site.

Re:I know why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050425)

Time to move I guess.

Re:I know why. (4, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050511)

MTV.com is designed for use within the USA so a lot of the site, including most of the videos, won't work for visitors from outside the country.

That sounds like bitching... why would you bitch about that?

It could be worse, you know - you could be able to access MTV.com.

Re:I know why. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051947)

There are various methods to view restricted media. I've found Hola media unblocker to be fairly effective. Or, channel through some other proxy that you prefer. It's hard to believe that slashdot readers are restricted by regional nonsense - that's for the unwashed ignorant masses! I routinely watch media on the BBC that isn't "authorized" for viewing in the US.

I'm authorized, because I'm smarter than the dumb bastards who think they have some god-given right to restrict me!

Re:I know why. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050633)

"It's who they have flying these things. You would think they could do better."

Maybe. But I think it's more just WHAT it is. Despite the fact that these things cost millions of dollars, flying them is still just a glorified videogame. It's no substitute for actually sitting in the cockpit of a plane, going "Ohhhh shit!"

Re:I know why. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050665)

Fun fact: That whooshing sound you hear; not a drone.

Re:I know why. (4, Funny)

supervillainsf (820395) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050723)

Re:I know why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050973)

Mod +1 Informative!!!!

Re:I know why. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052125)

Hahahaha! Good one.

I don't doubt that pilots experience a connection and feeling of "I', there" with the drones. But I'm not convinced that it's really the same.

Re:I know why. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052135)

s/I'/I'm

Re:I know why. (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051575)

I don't know how much of it is that or the fact the drones just don't give you the feedback a real plane does. I have a friend who is a pilot and he's taken me up a few times and he KNOWS exactly what is going on with the plane just by sound and feel. he knows what each and every vibration is and whether it is correct or an indicator of something wrong simply because he knows the planes he flies like the back of his hand. I have heard the same thing from military pilots, that they knew their F4 or F15 like its a part of them and could tell instantly when "something wasn't right" just by what the plane was telling them via sound or vibration.

With the drone you are really only getting video, maybe sound, you certainly aren't getting all the feedback a true pilot gets when they sit in the seat of a real aircraft. Now maybe they will find ways to fix this, maybe computers that will take over if something is going wrong, who knows, but I wouldn't be so quick to blame the pilots when we really are in the most early infancy of the tech.

Re:I know why. (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052635)

I don't know how much of it is that or the fact the drones just don't give you the feedback a real plane does

A pilot I know said the lacking information is why he's crashed flight sims a lot more often than he's crashed real planes :)

Marketdroid fix.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052947)

Have you tried our new force-feedback controller?
It VIBRATES!!! ;-)

Re:I know why. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051859)

"We learned on MS Flight Simulator. I thought it was standard practice to reboot every half hour, Boss."

Incentive (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050361)

"the accident rate for unmanned aircraft is still far above that of manned aircraft.'

In addition to being cheaper, unmanned aircraft have no people on them. So much less of an incentive to worry about safety.

Until the fall on someone's head, that is.

Re:Incentive (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050433)

it's a matter of falling on the the right persons head.

Re:Incentive (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050529)

it's a matter of falling on the the right persons head.

That's an easy one - whoever it falls on will, by default, be the "right person."

Re:Incentive (2)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050551)

Not really. If you're someone "who doesn't matter" it will just be ignored and kicked under the rug. If it falls on the head of someone with some influence or close to someone who has it all of the sudden it will matter.

Re:Incentive (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050767)

Was not a bug, but a feature. Who knows how much people would kill all those children (even the unborn ones) if they grew up to become terrorists.

So it's not just "Death from Above" (1)

eksith (2776419) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050365)

It's "Death from Above due to incompetence" too? That makes me feel so much better. Overall, the people who're advocating these back in the States are missing on little detail: Yes, ostensibly, you will feel like you're actually doing something to curb crime, make the neighborhood safer [insert some other thinly veiled justification for surveillance] etc... But these are not foolproof devices. There are always better fools.

Re:So it's not just "Death from Above" (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050695)

It's "Death from Above due to incompetence" too? That makes me feel so much better.

The study was done in 2004, nearly a decade ago, and most of the flights during that time were with much earlier
models than available today.

Still you have to worry about what happens when every Barney Fife from your local sheriff department can run one of these
with 10 hours training.

Re:So it's not just "Death from Above" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051427)

With any luck they'll keep crashing them (hopefully without managing to injure anyone) and run out of money to buy more.

Re:So it's not just "Death from Above" (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052273)

Don't worry, if we run out of money, then we'll print more.

Wrong button? (1)

naroom (1560139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050371)

I think that's the right button.

Drone goes BOOM?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050583)

Pooooor puty-tat...

Re:Wrong button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050621)

The right button is the button in the voting booth that votes for the conservative candidate. Democrats and RINOS be damned.

Re:Wrong button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051073)

So conservatives aren't creaming over this technology? Or are you being snarky?

Re:Wrong button? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051101)

The left button?

Remember: Left is right and right is wrong. Hey, it works for earrings.

Re:Wrong button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052623)

Picking the button wasn't the problem. To keep the UI interface optimal for the given screen real estate, the button is multifunction. It has alternate action assignments with various modifier key combos. It's likely the operator accidentally CTRL-SHIFT clicked instead of CTRL clicked. Easy enough to do when you're not looking and have fumbly fingers. And given the specs that require an immediate response, there's no confirmation prompt. Sooo... You know the rest.

Why worry? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050377)

We'll only use those drones abroad where nobody cares whether we drop them on some brown skinned folks. The world already doesn't give half a shit about it when we blow up a few houses 'cause someone heard someone consider pondering that there might be a terrorist somewhere in the general area. And if those things fall out of the sky, it will make our friends happy who sell them. Think of the jobs we create that way!

Also, think how we protect our valuable fighters. You know how long it takes to train a fighter pilot? And how expensive that is? Every single one of them that gets shot down or even killed has to be replaced and that person first has to be trained to the same level of experience. This ain't some idiot grunt that we use in the ground troops which pretty much serves as a way to hide unemployment, those are people who actually have to know something! They could technically actually have a decent job, those don't come in endless supply!

Re:Why worry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050541)

We'll only use those drones abroad where nobody cares whether we drop them on some brown skinned folks. The world already doesn't give half a shit about it when we blow up a few houses 'cause someone heard someone consider pondering that there might be a terrorist somewhere in the general area.

Not to worry, everyone will be covered eventually

The official answer to the "Does the President have the authority to assassinate US Citizens on US territory" is "We currently have no plans to deploy drones on US territory"

Just a matter of time...

Un-word (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050393)

"Un-cheap" is not a word. TFS should say "not cheap". Can we please have some minimal editing for language in future?

Re:Un-word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050465)

Really? Looks like a word to me.

Re:Un-word (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051403)

Lots of things look like words and yet they aren't. Just because you can make a sound doesn't make it a part of a language.

Re:Un-word (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051913)

Why that's un possible!

Re:Un-word (3, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050491)

Me fail english? That's unpossible!

Re:Un-word (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051079)

You mean un-pass English.

Re:Un-word (1)

AEC216 (621410) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051157)

Simpsons quote, Ralph Wiggum. Season 4, "I Love Lisa"

Re:Un-word (5, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050539)

"Un-cheap" is not a word. TFS should say "not cheap".

Sigh...

if only you were right... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Un-word (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050679)

Double plusgood karma!

Re:Un-word (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051415)

Of course your example is that of a fictional language that was based on English and was used to replace it.
Unfortunately that doesn't make the usage of something from that language correct in this language.
Otherwise you might as well pepper your comments with Klingon and call it English as well.

Re:Un-word (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052901)

You know what is interesting about doublethink? It's that while Orwell presented the idea that it is imposed upon the population by the Party (and the Big Brother), so that the population is sedated, the current reality is much more disturbing, it's much worse than that.

The doublethink (without which the doublespeak is not really possible) seems to be innate in the mob without any actual force applied to it from the above. The mob LOVES to doublethink.

Freedom is slavery - that's the slogan of the mob. It's the socialist utopian idea, which is based on discrimination against a minority and theft from a minority by the majority, and this is presented as 'freedom'.

Turning people into slaves and calling it freedom is the most insidious example of doublethink that people (the mob) induce upon themselves and they justify it to themselves as well, they call it 'social justice'. To steal and discriminate against a minority of people is 'social justice'. Orwell didn't come up with it, he just recorded the reality around him, and the Big Brother is not on the top of they pyramid, it's inside every one of these mob members.

it's 1984 newspeak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050571)

double plus uncheap

Re:Un-word (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050779)

They have no concern on killing people, so killing the language was just collateral damage.

Re:Un-word (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051333)

"Un-cheap" is not a word. TFS should say "not cheap". Can we please have some minimal editing for language in future?

Double plus ungood?

Re:Un-word (1)

volmtech (769154) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051383)

So a drone is said to be a not maned aircraft?

Re:Un-word (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051391)

Or how about 'expensive'? It's a word that has the (I assume) same meaning as 'un-cheap', but is actually in the English language dictionaries, unlike 'un-cheap'.

Sheesh, I only claim English as a second language, and that I haven't found first, but even I won't say something as mangled as 'un-cheap' unless I'm making a joke.

Re:Un-word (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051901)

At least it wasn't double plus un-cheap

Re:Un-word (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052645)

If you are going to read US sites you just have to take it as it comes and only complain about the stuff you can't parse at all.

no big deal (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050409)

just put another quarter in to start a new game.

Re:no big deal (1)

belthize (990217) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050535)

If you kill enough bad guys you get an extra life anyway.

2004? (1)

okor (1848382) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050415)

Is that data even valid anymore?

Re:2004? (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050553)

Data is always valid.

What you meant to ask is, "does that [2004] data apply to the current situation?"

Re:2004? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051421)

Failure rates have not changed a lot. The failures aren't due to things like software bugs or autopilot malfunctions. They're due to things that bring down all manner of planes:
1) running out of gas (or turning off the fuel.. Nogales CBP drone crash for example)
2) continued flight into adverse conditions (turbulence, storms, etc). Worse for drones than piloted aircraft. A pilot at least starts seeing the bad stuff ahead, or feels the turbulence building up. drones don't have that kind of feedback, also they tend to be flown lower/slower/rougher in worse conditions. You can fly in turbulence that would make a pilot sick, and then the wings fall off.
3) operator/pilot error (as described in the article)
4) mechanical failure - drone engines aren't as reliable as piloted aircraft engines, and when they do fail, there's no pilot to figure out a safe place to do a power off landing by looking out the window. No Great Santini here.. Wham, right into the preschool.
5) fundamentally unreliable design - they were designed as disposable devices to hit a cost/performance target. The analysis of failure modes and effects considers the cost of "lose the drone" not "lose someone's life". AT every point of the design, when decisions are made (should we use a rib of thickness A or 1.5*A?) the ultimate goal is "hit the mass and cost target" not "is it safe?"

duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050447)

the accident rate will naturally be higher in unmanned, if the pilot makes a mistake nobody dies in a drone, with manned flight, if you mess up or something goes wrong you and anyone near you on the ground has a good chance of dying/seriously hurt and you will also lose a $150m plane for a single mistake.
quite an incentive to do a perfect job, psychologically a drone pilot has none of that to consider because they will always be flying a crappy video camera, no matter how hard the pilots internally try to convince themselves otherwise.

Re:duh (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050963)

I'd imagine that a drone could kill people on the ground if it hit them? But they'd probably be foreign, so that's okay.

Perhaps to incentivise the drone pilots to not crash, they should sit them in ejector seats? You know, inside their office!

Re:duh (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051437)

Also, since it's remote, and not where the 'pilot' is, they have a level of psychological disconnection much greater than that of the pilot of a manned vehicle.
No matter what they do, it will always be a kind of video game.

Re:duh (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052193)

Also, since it's remote, and not where the 'pilot' is, they have a level of psychological disconnection much greater than that of the pilot of a manned vehicle.
No matter what they do, it will always be a kind of video game.

This also makes it easier to kill people.

The militaries (especially in Western nations) are always looking for ways to make it easier for people to 'override' their instinct to not take lives. A lot of military training goes into removing the delay between seeing an enemy human being and pulling the trigger; for infantry its a matter of sheer psychological conditioning and drilling. For drone jockeys, maybe too easy...

duh (1)

drunk_punk (2841507) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050475)

You think some armchair-pilot cares, that's cute. It's not like he/she is sitting in the cockpit. The reason why these are cheap is beacause the human element has been taken out (to train a pilot is around $2M last time I checked, and it's been a decade.) So yeah, they're gonna crash more than manned flights. Who cares? You want the pilot to care? Sitting his/her ass in a manned jet is the only sure way to make that happen, and yes, that's expensive. It's easier/cheaper to train a mechanic to unbox another drone and screw the wings on...

Re:duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050563)

I imagine that the cost of training UAV pilots is just as, if not more expensive than traditional manned planes. However, it's a lot easier to reuse a UAV pilot after their craft fails ....

Re:duh (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050877)

I imagine that training with an UAV simulator is much closer to reality than training with the simulator of a manned aircraft.

Re:duh (2)

SlickShoe (2708487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051045)

Actually, UAV pilots are MUCH cheaper. The Army uses enlisted soldiers to fly its drones. The Air Force used to use "real" pilots, but finally caved and now trains cadets as drone operators without putting them in a plane, ever.

Re:duh (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052377)

Well it kind of makes sense. Drone pilots only need a portion of the training. They don't need to be physically conditioned to deal with g forces, how to survive an ejection and most of their communication (radio/etc) is probably handled by somebody else in the room.

Re:duh (1)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052951)

Actually, drone pilots do a basic flying course all the way up through solo flights and cross-country flights. They are just as real pilots as anybody that just got their private pilot's license. They don't have the extensive flight training of their fighter/bomber/transport brothers but they do have extensive training flying their drones.

Re:duh (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052261)

You think some armchair-pilot cares, that's cute. It's not like he/she is sitting in the cockpit. The reason why these are cheap is beacause the human element has been taken out (to train a pilot is around $2M last time I checked, and it's been a decade.) So yeah, they're gonna crash more than manned flights. Who cares? You want the pilot to care? Sitting his/her ass in a manned jet is the only sure way to make that happen, and yes, that's expensive.

It's easier/cheaper to train a mechanic to unbox another drone and screw the wings on...

I can think of two solutions;

Electric shock feedback for the drone jockies, maybe some heating elements wired to the soles of their feet stuff like that. So they feel pain when the drone 'feels pain'.

Alternatively program the drones so that they fear death and don't want to crash.

The first will probably end better than the second...

Trojan Horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050495)

It so the enemy takes the wreckage back to their main base along with the gps tracker and homing beacon.

Mufasa what is that beeping sound coming from your glorious trophy of imperial impotence?

Captcha: trapped

Re:Trojan Horse (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050639)

Or a large wooden badger.

Only "a third" caused by human error? (3, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050505)

One third is a surprisingly low percentage. The number of manned small plane crashes caused by human error is probably close to two thirds.

So while I'm sure lot could be done to improve the ergonomics of the pilot, it sounds like the drones' mechanical failure rate is a more worrying problem.

Re:Only "a third" caused by human error? (1)

CncRobot (2849261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050705)

You need a disclaimer.

Yes, the rate is at 54%, but what they classify as pilot error you may or may not. I'm pretty sure a local crash got put down as pilot error because the engine blew shortly after takeoff and oil covered the windshield and the two guys went down in the water, mostly unharmed. They had slight engine weirdness on run up that they chose to ignore so it was pilot error. I would have gone back, not much flight experience for me, because I don't feel comfortable if anything is slightly off, but those two guys had decades of exepricne each and thought they could handle anything.

So whatever they can put on as pilot error they do, even if they have to strech it. So take those numbers with a grain of salt.

All the more reason to remove the human element (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050537)

Make the drones totally autonomous.

Now, excuse me while I go hide under a tree.

Re:All the more reason to remove the human element (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051087)

Who do you think programs the automation?

Re:All the more reason to remove the human element (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051663)

people who have a better understanding of physics than your typical RC operator, I reckon

Horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050605)

What an absolutely horrible problem. Never mind the innocent civilians and patriots defending their country who are getting killed by these armed drones.

Expensive? WTF? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050709)

While I recognize this is not military quality, but for under a grand I can easily build a self navigating aircraft capable of carrying all sorts of surveillance and bombs such as Molotov cocktails. I may not get days of flight time, but I bet I can come pretty close on my first try. I don't even have to do any real work, just combine my existing R/C modeling skills with some parts from diydrones.com. The hardware is cheap, comes with software thats pretty solid from the start and easy as hell to extend.

I can not possibly imagine there is a real reason for ridiculous expense other than government waste. The only time any of my aircraft have crashed in the last 10 years is because I literally flew them into the ground (or lake as I've been doing seaplanes recently), not because of some sort of 'mishap'. In every case had I not been trying extreme maneuvers it never would have happened.

That's the low hanging fruit (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052659)

Once weather, gusty winds etc get into the picture that "under a grand" in a weekend or two isn't going to be enough.

Hit the wrong button you say?... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050737)

Reminded me of this... [imageshack.us]

Danger... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050749)

The risk of crashing a manned plane is your death...
Flying a drone is more like a video game, you don't have any fear of personal injury so you expend less effort to avoid crashing.

Screw the Drones, what about insurance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43050885)

What I want to know is: If I live in a city that's got those fucking drones buzzing around, will my insurance rate go up because they crash though folks houses?

Cockstations or Workpits? (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050917)

from TFA: "Analysis shows that general-purpose computer workstations and UAS GCSes are up to 98% similar. "

There's your problem, right there. Flying a desk is not the same thing as flying a computer.

There's a reason that certain cockpit controls have different shapes. For example, tactile feedback, as long as you're trained to pay attention to it, can spare you the embarrassment of mistaking your flaps from your landing gear. Just in case you've never flown, retracting the gear when you're "going around" is a good idea (it reduces drag and increases your rate of climb) but retracting your flaps at the wrong time can kill you during the same procedure.

And where are the software designers in all of this? Flying without any sort of contextually accurate or appropriate sensory feedback creates a deficit. As a pilot, if you can't hear the engine or feel the effects of flight control inputs, you're at a disadvantage. Pilots are taught to pay attention to more than flight gauges and readouts. Software designers have the luxury of setting up AI algorithms that could cross check parameters, provide feedback and require verification before allowing a desk jockey to shut down an engine while an aircraft is at-or-below some critical elevation.

It's nice to know that there are standards for ergonomics and all, but there are reasons that the pilots of commercial aviation operations are still in the plane. Yes, one of them is so the passengers feel better about the experience, but the rest of them have more to do with controlling safety than anything else. It amazes me that to know that software exists target and intercept an incoming ICBM, but the military isn't using software to control its drones (the aircraft, not the 'pilots') more effectively? Me thinks someone's having too much very expensive fun.

Re:Cockstations or Workpits? (1)

SlickShoe (2708487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051129)

It's only a problem if the pilot thinks he's flying a plane. Drones != manned aircraft. The mechanics of flight are the same, but the UAV has to handle of that on it's own due to communication latency between air and ground.

Re:Cockstations or Workpits? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052249)

There's your problem, right there. Flying a desk is not the same thing as flying a computer.

I remember in a game, 'Civilisation: Call to Power' there was a corporation unit the animation of which was basically a guy in a suit sitting at a desk. When it move yes it was very much like a flying desk. I always found that quite hilarious.

So, no change...disappointing (2)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050949)

CFIT was identified as a cause of 25% of USAF Class A Mishaps between 1993 and 2002.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFIT [wikipedia.org]

Controlled (should be "uncontrolled?") Flight Into Terrain. Simply put, "the aircraft was working fine until someone drove it into the ground".

It's easy to do, especially with high workload in a fast jet, in a combat situation.

I guess that the UAV technology is still immature.

"Not that much cheaper"?? Whatever! (1)

SlickShoe (2708487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43050955)

The current generation of drones are *much* cheaper than their manned counterparts. When the DoD reports "per unit cost" of drones, most of the time that cost includes multiple aircraft. Per aircraft cost of a Predator B (MQ-9) is ~$10mil. The full reported unit cost of ~$50 million includes *four* aircraft and all the hardware to operate them. Not to mention reduced training, maintenance, and pretty much every other sort of cost. The Air Force hates using drones, and they resisted widespread adoption for so long, but even they couldn't deny the economics of the platform.

The study was done WHEN? (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051013)

A December 2004 FAA study of Defense Department drone crashes found human factors to be a causal factor...

You've got to be shitting me.

A news story based on a decade-old study?

In other news, a 2004 study shows that your iPad does not exist!

Re:The study was done WHEN? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051033)

Also, a 2004 study shows that computers won't run Crysis 3.

Oh my god!

Re:The study was done WHEN? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43051095)

2006 studies show that computers won't run Crysis 1 either

AF recalcitrance responsible for accidents (1)

SlickShoe (2708487) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051027)

The reality is that drones are much easier to fly than regular aircraft. Flying a drone is a point and click affair; most accidents are caused by people trying to fly it like a conventional aircraft. IMO, the Air Force's insistence on re-purposing fighter pilots as drone pilots is responsible for a great deal of the high accident rate. The Army, in contrast, doesn't use "pilots" to operate their drones and yet enjoy a lower accident rate.

Re:AF recalcitrance responsible for accidents (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052039)

That kind of makes sense. If somebody pulled me out of what I do now and put a point-and-click interface between me and my work, I'd get upset too. They should hire people from the gaming community.

Apologies to Louis Prima (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051039)

You push the wrong button down
The drone careens round and round
And slashmissions come out

Simple solution (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051069)

Get humans out of the loop.

-- SkyNet

awareness (1)

mandginguero (1435161) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051267)

An artist at my University has worked towards trying to raise awareness of these sorts of risks - particularly topical for the San Diego region where we have a confluence of lots of defense companies and high-tech university research. His art piece generated a lot of attention for wanting to stimulate the conversations we'd have when a crash occurs in a residential or otherwise inopportune area, before the event actually happens. http://uccenterfordrones.wordpress.com/regarding-recent-drone-malfunction/ [wordpress.com] was his piece on it, and one of the many articles explaining the 'hoax' http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/-Source-of-Mystery-Drone-Crash-Revealed-182407811.html [nbcsandiego.com]

experience vs theory vs practice (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051783)

The theory is that drones should fly better than manned aircraft--makes logical sense since drones are essentially robots/computers.

The experience is that drone crash more often and mainly caused by human error. Since drones are remotely controlled exclusively, not in a supervisory manner.

The practice is that drone control, equipment, telemetry and pilot training, though not classified as manned operation, were based on manned operation principles (e.g. rules of engagement for instance).

Basically the Human Machine Interface, which includes user interfaces, operational protocol, and vehicle capabilities (i.e. features) is based on manned experience and at this point, we can conclude it doesn't work. We are scratching the surface on proper drone oepration. I'm sure experts back in 1995 generals were thinking, "Oh, it's just like manned flight/operation w/o the physical person in the craft... viola! Done..."

BUT, it doesn't mean drones and the concept of drones are less worthy than manned aircraft. The HMI interface is just wrong. And a lot of the autonomous tech and what's being created on the hobby side is showing that there's a better HMI interface.

not "just wrong" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052053)

They're not "just wrong" ... they're at the holy shit I could do better than that while stoned and getting assraped by an elephant. They are a treatise in human factors failures. They're beyond horrible. They're designed by incompetent engineers for incompetent engineers to specs that can only be explained as the product of a PHB dictating to a tweaking monkey. Holy shit are they bad. Yes, I've flown most of the USAF's UAV's. Global Hawk is the only one that's airworthy, and that only when it loses link with the ground station.

The obvious solution (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year and a half ago | (#43051895)

...is remove any potential human error by developing an artificial intelligence to completely computerize operations. We could call it Skynet.

Offtopic: There's a UX for that? (1)

islisis (589694) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052019)

Are we at the point now that every 'ios and web' coder must consider a default 'UX' for every touchable object on the planet? Or do they really think the 'UX' of killing is to be regarded a major sales point for modern military budgets.

Is it too hard to accept that users still create a large part of their own experience learning any device and is not something which needs to be self-built in, unlike a UI? Where exactly are we aiming to hurl our technological consciousness back towards?

Bad Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43052167)

When drones are considered keep in mind that they are probably including small, disposable drones and that reports of crashes might include these tiny machines. Larger drones are probably very rarely lost.

Just wait, they'll soon get small enough .... (1)

ankhank (756164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052497)

Soon they'll be autonomous, solar powered, and small and smart enough
to track you down and crawl into your ear before they blow your mind out your nostrils.

Ban the earworm now, before it's too late!

We don't want them as safe as manned aircrafts (1)

iceco2 (703132) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052535)

We build and operate manned aircrafts to a very very high safety standard.
A simple software upgrade for a manned aircraft takes years to complete, because of the standards employed.
When operating manned aircrafts we have strict standards as well on how to do everything and many many small and large things we don't do.
These are all very limiting both in the cost they impose and in the ability to get the job done.
We use unmanned aircrafts so we operate more freely both when building and when flying them, this comes with a higher accident rate from all causes but that
is the whole point.
We need to remember unmanned aircrafts are not only cheaper then their manned counterparts they also do things the manned counterparts can't or won't do.

"could become?" (1)

Arker (91948) | about a year and a half ago | (#43052541)

The relatives of somewhere around 3000 murdered Pakistanis would like a word with you about verb tenses.
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