Autonomous Vehicles, Ground and Air
- 1 Seed Documents
- 2 Suggested Outline
- 2.1 Self-Driving Cars
- 2.1.1 What are they? Different levels of autonomy.
- 2.1.2 What technologies make them possible?
- 2.1.3 The near-term situation
- 2.1.4 The longer-range situation
- 2.1.5 Social dimensions (Derenge)
- 2.2 Drones
- 2.2.1 Technology
- 2.2.2 Benefits
- 2.2.3 Safety
- 2.2.4 Regulation
- 2.2.5 Social Issues
- 2.3 Autonomous Underwater Vehicles
- 2.1 Self-Driving Cars
What are they? Different levels of autonomy.
What technologies make them possible?
Communications and computing technologies
The near-term situation
What companies are involved and how advanced are they?
- Road testing has been in progress for years.
- No recorded accidents that fault the driverless car.
- Only rumors; nothing confirmed
Autonomous features already available or announced
Current licensing status (by state?)
The longer-range situation
Licensing and liability issues
Transition issues (mix old and new cars)
Social dimensions (Derenge)
Employment effects (taxi/Uber drivers? truckers?)
Urban sprawl, commuting time
Better for the rich or for the poor?
Different types, weights, sizes, capabilities
Drones today go by several names: unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or systems (UASs), and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) or systems (RPSs). These terms currently cover any unmanned planes, helicopters, dirigible, or other type of flying vehicle. The FAA regulates all uses of these systems, which fall into three general categories: public (governmental), civil (non-governmental), and model aircraft for hobby or recreational use. Regulation mostly covers public and civil operations; no express permission or documentation is needed to fly recreational drones.
Generally accepted classifications for unmanned aerial systems include:
|Class||Max Altitude||Max Range|
|Hand-held||2,000 ft (600 m)||~2 km|
|Close||5.000 ft (1,500 m)||10 km|
|NATO||10,000 ft (3,000 m)||50 km|
|Tactical||18,000 ft (5,500 m)||160km|
|MALE (medium altitude, long endurance)||30,000 ft (9,100 m)||>200 km|
|HALE (high altitude, long endurance)||>30,000 ft (9,100 m)||indefinite|
|Hypersonic (high-speed, supersonic (Mach 1-5), hypersonic (Mach 5+))||50,000 ft (15,200 m) or suborbital||>200 km|
|Orbital (Mach 25+)||low earth orbit||indefinite|
|CIS (Lunar Earth-Moon transfer)||a lot||big|
The United States military currently uses several different drones, ranging from hand-held systems resembling model aircraft to massive intercontinental jets capable of flying over 10,000 miles.
At the smaller end of the spectrum, soldiers use the hobby aircraft-sized RQ-ll Raven for reconnaissance. It carries a camera that can be used to view the surrounding area, see over hills, and provide other valuable information about the immediate vicinity.
The MQ-1 Predator is perhaps the most well-known military drone, having appeared in movies, video games, and terrifying news pieces about murderous robots indiscriminately killing innocent civilians. It and its sibling the MQ-9 Reaper fulfill both reconnaissance and "dynamic execution" roles, capable of traveling several hundred miles at subsonic speeds.
At the heavy end of the spectrum, the RQ-4 Global Hawk is larger than some manned aircraft. It fulfills reconnaissance and communications roles and has a range of over 10,000 miles.
Commercially, drones have a wide variety of uses, from the heavily anticipated Amazon Prime Air system that would use drones to deliver packages to customers to surveillance and mapping drones such as those produced by delair-tech. Drones are used increasingly in surveying, and agriculture as well.
Perhaps the most well-known use of commercial drones today is photography. Aerial shots that previously could only be taken from a helicopter can now be done for a fraction of the price and effort. Drones require none of the intensive training or logistical muscle that helicopters require to operate, and so are an increasingly attractive option for smaller film and photography companies.
What technologies make them possible (each size class)
The British Fairey Queen, a modified biplane, is the first example of a controlled unmanned aerial vehicle. The Royal Air Force used Fairey Queens for target practice as a way to give pilots realistic combat simulations without endangering a human pilot. This radio-controlled airplane first appeared in 1933, and the idea of drones for use as aerial targets enjoyed limited success through the Second World War in both England and the United States
World War Two saw the entrance of UAVs into the public eye when Nazi V-1 Flying Bombs began falling onto London. The V-1 was controlled mostly by mechanical components. In-flight stability was maintained by a weighted pendulum and a gyrocompass, while overall navigation relied on the simple point-and-shoot method by which the V-1's launch ramp would be set at the right heading so that the bomb would pass over its target area. A mechanical wind-odometer measured air-distance traveled (so calibration for wind conditions on a given day was necessary), so that the bomb's engine would shut off after traveling a preset distance.
Drones continued to be either simple "aerial torpedoes" or remote-controlled aircraft until recently. Especially in the military field, "unmanned aerial vehicles are acquiring an increased level of autonomy as more complex mission scenarios are envisioned."
The physical hardware used by drones is identical to that used by piloted aircraft; the differences arise in the software used. The simplest modern UAVs are simply radio-controlled aircraft. These transmit instrument readings and visual feed to the controller. This makes a controlled UAV nearly identical to a piloted aircraft, with the one difference being that the pilot isn't in the aircraft itself. Autonomous UAVs use the same sensors and visual input, but feed them into a decision-making algorithm instead of passing them to a human agent. The technology unique to autonomous drones in this context is in the form of the algorithms and techniques used to turn the collection of input data into real-time decisions. It is an area heavily dependent on the work of the artificial intelligence community.