David Voss thinks he can get the public to think differently about the concept of autonomy. For the military, manned-unmanned teaming is old hat, but for the average person on the street (and even for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration), it's a little bit more daunting. But it doesn't have to be, Voss argues.
In his presentation at the Paris Air Show on Monday, Voss, who is the senior director of control technologies at Rockwell Collins, introduced an "e-book" (although we were given a hard copy as well) that can only be described as open architecture for manned-unmanned teaming. It's officially titled: "Five steps to facilitating the convergence of manned and unmanned aviation."
Voss believes the time for autonomy to work its way into the larger culture is at hand. And that it's inevitable that things will change in the next decade or so - to the point where we will one day fly in remotely piloted commercial airliners.
I spoke with him briefly after the press conference - here are some of his thoughts:
Voss's five steps are:
1. Discover what is needed technically to facilitate the convergence of manned and unmanned aviation.
2. Develop and engage automated air traffic management solutions: controls, navigation, communications, sensors, networking and more.
3. Stay apprised of the technology tests and evaluations underway by industry and government.
4. Understand the rules as determined by agencies such as the FAA and EUROCONTROL and collaborate to drive global air traffic management.
5. Change embedded culture and imagine the possibilities.
I think the last one is my favorite step. I admit I'm not thrilled by the idea of a UAV that can fly me from New York to Dallas, but I know that time is coming. Watching the culture and attitudes toward unmanned aerial vehicles in our own airspace will be interesting - so will the debates over everything from safety to our concept of a "pilot."
The e-book will be continually updated. It's a true working document, and Voss believes that keeping it open and accessible will encourage the conversation and advance the cause. You'll be able to find more information on the Rockwell Collins site with the next few weeks, I believe.