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Lockheed Martin’s Silver Fox UAV
Lockheed Martin successfully controls four unmanned devices from a single control point

Lockheed Martin is proud to announce it has successfully tested a new centralized controller device for unmanned vehicles. The successful tests enable the military to further expand the deployment of unmanned vehicles with less input from personnel.

With Lockheed Martin's system, an operator is able to control as many as four different unmanned vehicles from a single laptop touch screen and hand controller.

"This is a very important step in risk reduction for the Army’s Future Combat System Centralized Controller Device," said Gene Holleque of Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control division.  "This test proves Lockheed Martin and its industry partners are resolving the issues involved with controlling several disparate unmanned systems from a single centralized controller.  It also gives us an opportunity to experiment with human factors early in the process to ensure we can deliver an effective and soldier-friendly controller to the warfighter."

A number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) were featured in Lockheed Martin's tests. The vehicles included the Lockheed Martin Silver Fox, Roll Based Operations Architecture robot and the Lockheed Martin UGV demonstrator. Also used were UHF, L-band and wireless broadband radio links used in conjunction with the Combat Maneuver Mission Route Planner (CMMRP) to control the unmanned vehicles.

Unmanned vehicles appear to be the wave of the future when it comes to the United States military. The government is pumping millions of dollars into research and every penny is worth if it means that human pilots/operators aren't put into harm’s way.

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Won't change anything
By mjcutri on 12/13/2006 1:56:45 PM , Rating: 1
Every new technology affects how wars are fought (tactics), but not how they are won. To win a war, you must put troops on the ground. It has been proven again and again throughout history.

RE: Won't change anything
By bnme on 12/13/2006 2:03:28 PM , Rating: 5
Oh, like high-tech robotic ground troops.

RE: Won't change anything
By Dfere on 12/13/2006 2:05:38 PM , Rating: 4
We certainly need "boots on the ground". That alone does not win a war.

Vietnam proved that theory wrong. So did the Japanese invasion and occupation of Manchuria. Same for oh.. gee, the American Revolution.

The political aspects, and inside an army, intelligence, logistical and technical factors also contribute to success in a war. There are also societal factors which enable a country to prevail in a crisis or war.

RE: Won't change anything
By KaiserCSS on 12/13/2006 2:54:31 PM , Rating: 2
Not necissarily. This is the first time in history where humans are not required to be physically present while performing the role of a pilot or a soldier. What the Army is aiming for is a way to minimize the amount of manpower put in harms way by replacing manpower with interlinked robotic drones.

Oh, has anyone every seen Terminator? I don't know about you guys, but doesn't this sound a little like SkyNet? They want all of there unmanned vehicles to be linked together through a comabt network. How long will it take before UAVs and UGVs are completely autonomous?

RE: Won't change anything
By Hypernova on 12/13/2006 3:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
That was the first thing that crossed my mind.

RE: Won't change anything
By creathir on 12/13/2006 6:11:39 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I would say the FIRST time would be the V2 rocket bombs launched from Germany in WWII against England.

Sure they were not accurate at all, but that was not the point. They succeeded in spreading the terror they intended, all without a pilot or soldier.

- Creathir

RE: Won't change anything
By Chillin1248 on 12/14/2006 10:41:02 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the first case would be the Japanes Balloon bombs:

On May 5, 1945, a balloon bomb which had drifted over the Pacific killed five children and a woman. The six who perished were the only known casualties inflicted by a Japanese attack on the US mainland during World War II.


RE: Won't change anything
By iNGEN on 12/14/2006 2:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
I am a technology junkie...JUNKIE, and I can honestly say that UCAVs are one of the few avenues of technology advancement that genuinely scares me. In a sick sort of way the loss of life associated with warfare has IMO (not empirical in any way) a strong positive corrolation with the ethical use of war.

I have serious reservations about the moral implications of this technology path.

Am I missing something?
By dubldwn on 12/13/2006 2:50:12 PM , Rating: 5
an operator is able to control as many as four different unmanned vehicles from a single laptop touch screen and hand controller.

So, with a laptop and a nunchuck one person can fly four souped up model airplanes? Sounds more like a new tactic then new technology.

With 100 gamers, 400 planes, 200 bags of chips, and 800 sodas we could really screw someone up.

RE: Am I missing something?
By Aikouka on 12/13/2006 3:13:26 PM , Rating: 3
Trust me when I say there's a lot more that goes into these than your average RF-controlled toy plane :P. Although the Lawn Mower-esque engine on the front kind of gives you that toy idea.

Also, you mentioned the government pumping money into the program... I thought I read a month or so ago that the government was looking to cut money from the unmanned flight program because of recent failures.

One thing that was a bit freaky was this:

Lockheed Martin is currently experimenting with control of the iRobot Corporation’s PackBot from the same centralized controller.

Where's Will Smith when you need him!

RE: Am I missing something?
By dubldwn on 12/13/2006 4:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
I guess it seems like we are way behind where we should be with this type of tech .

We should have robots everywhere. Why are there still employees at burger king? I could see making people's food (to order), currency exchange, and everthing else being automated, and monitored by one person. My grocery store has one person monitoring 8 automated checkouts. We should need a lot less people in the service industry.

Hey, if a manufacturing society turns into the service society, what does a service society turn into? Fat?

RE: Am I missing something?
By Zirconium on 12/13/2006 6:55:35 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, if a manufacturing society turns into the service society, what does a service society turn into? Fat?

Detroit. The sad truth is that while it is nice that automation will get rid of all the menial jobs eventually, what will happen to the people without the aptitude/motivation to get an education? Welfare? Also, it has been shown statistically that poor people are more likely to be overweight, so I guess you were right.

By mellondust on 12/13/2006 1:27:17 PM , Rating: 3
I wonder if it is easier to go to war if we know we are sending mostly drone planes, tanks, or ships to fight instead of human opperators? It might not even matter but interesting to think about.

By novacthall on 12/13/2006 1:43:19 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever played Metal Gear or watched Terminator?

By rushfan2006 on 12/13/2006 4:15:48 PM , Rating: 2
Actually that is exactly what many fear for our future...not necessarily just us (USA) but other countries as well....if there is no discernible risk to human life on the country's side that is doing the attacking....that would make the politicans more apt to go to war than they already are.they'd be totally de-sensitized.

By masher2 on 12/14/2006 12:00:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're being far too negative. If there is no discernable risk to human life, that's a good thing. It means the potential for future wars to be fought wholly without loss of human life on either side. After one side has defeated the other's network, there's no need for actual bloodshed.

The number of civilians killed as a ratio to the number of combatants has been declining steadily the past several hundred years...due primarily to technology. Nuclear weapons and the policy of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) threatened to reverse that...but precision munitions and autonomous combat networks will continue the process. So yes, war may become more "tolerable". But it'll also become far less bloody.

By Milliamp on 12/14/2006 8:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
But these machines cost tons of money, although there may be little risk in terms of human life, there is a large financial risk.

They will probably be deployed as forward recon and scouts, but the bulk of the fighting will still be done by humans for a while.

Likely More
By Master Kenobi on 12/13/2006 1:47:05 PM , Rating: 3
Well we will probably be more likely to take action when action needs taking, rather than sitting around trying to evaluate the cost of lives, training, etc.... Now we can just deploy an armored robot military that can do what needs to be done. Next your gonna see the military doing heavy recruitment of PC Gamers to use as pilots in unmanned fighters, bombers, tanks, awacs, etc.............

RE: Likely More
By Pirks on 12/13/06, Rating: 0
Command and Conquer
By Azsen on 12/13/2006 4:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
I think with these sorts of technologies being developed their end goal is to wage war Command and Conquer style. That way a lot more effort can be put into the strategy of the battle because you'll be able to see where everything is on the battlefield and make informed decisions. At the moment a lot of the decisions are being made by people on the ground.

Full UAV armies not good
By qwerty1 on 12/14/2006 5:57:40 PM , Rating: 2
The one problem with fully mechanized battle systems is that it relies too much on electronics. One EMP bomb will render a fearful multi-billion dollar army into scrap metal in an instant. And if everyone had robotic armies, there would be more bloodshed simply because the losing country will not just give up once their robots are destroyed. The people will gather up and fight conventionally, in which then it becomes humans vs. machines matrix style.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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