‘Jeff Bezos and Our Robot Future’

by Rich Lowry

I’m incorrigibly pro-drone, so I like the Bezos delivery idea and will soon start lobbying Jack Fowler to undertake drone delivery of NRDT. But in a comment on my column today, WalkingHorse notes one of the big technical challenges still to be overcome:

Situational awareness and collision avoidance is the rub with this otherwise attractive idea. Virtually all current-generation unmanned aircraft systems “fly blind.” The congressional mandate to enable the use of unmanned aircraft in national airspace by 2015 is only so much paper until the obvious (and not so obvious) safety considerations are addressed. For even smaller aircraft not under direct FAA control, in close proximity to human beings, the safety considerations are if anything amplified. Enabling an unmanned aircraft to be sufficiently aware of its surroundings to avoid collisions with objects and people while performing its intended purpose is a non-trivial exercise.

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