Feeds

US airforce to get ground refuelling robot

'Greetings, plane.' 'Greetings, fuel unit.'

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The US Air Force may demonstrate a small ground robot capable of refuelling aeroplanes unassisted next year, according to reports.

Flight International says that the US Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate is developing the robot. Initially it will refuel the much-maligned F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (aka Lightning II) due to go into service with many Western-aligned air forces - including three of the four US ones - in coming years. However the droid will also be able to service other aircraft should it reach widespread service.

Apparently the machine has a "vision based guidance system" which enables it to find the filling point, open the covers and lock on a multi-jointed hose pantograph.

Flight quotes an air force lab statement:

Future advances based on the results of the [robot] will allow refuelling crews to operate free of [protective] gear in a closed environment and still be protected from chemical-biological risks.

Apart from the chemical/biological/radiological environments argument, it seems that the US air force thinks it may achieve savings in man-hours as well.

That's all very well: but if the planned Dutch petrol-station robot is a danger to humanity - and that has plainly been established beyond question - how much more of a menace is a fearsome machine with access to huge volumes of jet fuel, allowed to meddle unsupervised with combat planes laden with tons of hugely powerful munitions?

One need hardly flag up the point that many of the aircraft nowadays are robots too. Indeed, there will soon also be robots able to refuel each other in the air, with no need ever to land except perhaps to raid humanity's energy resources.

Truly, these are the end times. The Flight report is here. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Spies, avert eyes! Tim Berners-Lee demands a UK digital bill of rights
Lobbies tetchy MPs 'to end indiscriminate online surveillance'
How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?
Can you hear the difference? Can anyone?
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.