FleaInNYCbanner.jpg

? Justin Timberlake: SexyBack | Main | Method Man & Mary J Blige: I'll Be There For You ?

July 31, 2006

P-175 Polecat

Polecat.jpg

Maximum drama as Lockheed Martin unveils the P-175 Polecat at the Farnborough International Air Show. This is the future, folks.

With a 90-foot wingspan and a tailless design, the "Polecat" UAV looks like a smaller version of the B-2 stealth bomber. And like the B-2, the drone has been built to be stealthy and sneaky. But the twin-engine Polecat is "90 percent composite materials, rather than metal," the L.A. Daily News notes. "The vehicle is also made from less than 200 parts," adds Aviation Week. "Adhesives are used rather than rivets, decreasing the amount of labor needed to construct it -- that approach also contributed to a lower radar cross section inherent in the design."
...
Skunk Works is also trying to rig Polecat up with "a fully autonomous flight control and mission-handling system that will allow future UAVs to conduct their missions, from take-off to landing, without the intervention of human operators," Jane's adds.

The "Polecat" monicker is cute. What is less cute is when these things are all piloted by AIs and enabled with Berzerker badlife detection software.

Keeping up with the Joneses Update: The Dassault-Saab Neuron and BAE Corax.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at July 31, 2006 12:27 PM

Comments

I'm starting to think there's some unspoken Terminator-related trauma in the Flea's backstory...

We're a long way off from having self-directed UCAS systems. Within our lifetime certainly but still only on the horizon. They haven't even learned to fly on their own yet -- let alone fly, evade detection, search and discriminate between friendly and enemy contacts, learn and execute combat air maneuevers, learn and use weapon systems and countermeasures.

Until they can do all of those things faster and better than the average 35-year-old (and highly experienced) air force pilot, there's nothing to worry about.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 01:00 PM

While I agree with your overall point, I think the real tripwire is when these critters can build and maintain themselves. To me, the most alarming part of this news is how few parts are necessary for building one of these things.

I'd say we have some future as Badlife for as long as the machines need slaves with long skinny fingers for taking cotton balls out of bottles.

As for the backstory: One day all with be revealed with the Origin of the Flea...

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 01:03 PM

I don't think we will ever get to the "build themselves" part because the building is constrained by warfighting requirements and budget allocations, both of which are very human-derived. I can see a future where warfighting requirements might be evaluated by machines, but never budget allocations. SkyNet and the T1000s will have to compete with human-oriented entitlement programs, and I am sure humanity's eternal craving for spending others' dough via feelgood programs will keep any self-directed defense programs in check.

I don't think people will ever take themselves out of the economics loop -- we would have to live in some kind of Star Trek collectivist nightmare where there is no money but everybody gets everything they want via replicators and yet mysteriously there is still, inexplicably, interstellar trade and finance.

Posted by: Chris Taylor [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 01:19 PM

I thought it was a War of the Worlds-esque trauma, was it not? I have to get you that Tripods dvd one day.

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 02:56 PM

I forgot to post about how I have now watched the first and only two seasons of Tripods. I thought they were for the most part very well done and faithful to the books. Though the padding was shameless...

I especially loved Eloise at the Chateau Ricordeau. I became convinced she was the actress who played Princess Irulan* in the Sci Fi Dune series but was quite mistaken. It turns out Charlotte Long died in a car crash in 1984. Just horrible news. I was quite taken with her.

*Who in fact turned out to be Julie Cox who is, as far as I know, alive and well.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 03:05 PM

And you are spot on about The War of the Worlds. The key word is "musical"!

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 31, 2006 03:05 PM

Adore Julierulan.

You have some damn good sources - where did you find season 2? what format?

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 10:06 AM

In that vein, Paul Atreides was a fool!

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 10:10 AM

>>And you are spot on about The War of the Worlds.

I know my Flea-lore.

Posted by: The_Campblog [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 10:12 AM

Ahh... Season 2 was a disappointing, scratchy copy of a PAL format release. To my knowledge, only Season 1 was released on DVD. I gather Season 2 was ready to go - even the packaging was set - and the license-holder decided not to bother. I cannot imagine why. Even for a small, specialized market I would have thought it was free money.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 10:44 AM