Warplanes: July 22, 2003


: The Navy is testing a new UAV (Uninhabited Air Vehicle) that takes advantage of cheaper off-the-shelf software and sensors. The Dakota UAV is designed to operate more autonomously than earlier UAVs, to the point where one operator can control three Dakota type UAVs simultaneously. This is done by programming the UAVs to be able to take off and land by themselves, and use their sensors (cheap videocams and pattern recognition software) to be self aware of obstacles (a flocks of birds, high power lines and so on) and avoid them. The operator would give the UAV way points and a patrol area. The UAV would warn the operator if there was something happening that the software could not handle. The Dakota itself is a 200 pound aircraft with a 16 foot wingspan. The Dakota is controlled by software that can run on a laptop. 


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