Handling UAVs on crowded Navy carriers poses major challenge

'Human-machine interfaces' must be refined before robotic aircraft are introduced to crowded flight decks

As the Navy prepares to introduce its robotic jet-powered warplanes to the decks of its aircraft carriers in mid-2013, it must reassess how it choreographs the delicate dance of people, vehicles, and manned and unmanned aircraft in a highly dangerous environment," reports David Axe at AOL Defense blog.

The Navy tentatively plans to launch the seven-ton Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned aerial vehicle from the carrier USS Eisenhower sometime in 2013 under its Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) program, the story said. The UCAS-D program will lay the groundwork for the follow-on Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike initiative, which seeks to add armed unmanned aerial vehicles to all 11 of the Navy's carriers no later than 2020.

Full integration of robot warplanes onto carriers demands almost foolproof systems that aren't yet ready, the story said. To prepare these busy flight decks and their crews for the game-changing event, laboratories and contractors across the United States are racing to refine the "human-machine interfaces" that will mediate between sailors and their robotic shipmates.

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