Monday, August 22, 2005

Robot Spyplanes Over US Western States

Forest officials test civilian spy planes to fight wildfires
Associated Press

Scientists have been testing whether flocks of the planes - similar to the spy drones the U.S. military flies over Iraq and Afghanistan - can help track the direction and behavior of fast-moving flames.

After the experimental flight of three unmanned aerial vehicles this summer, the U.S. Forest Service will launch the first real-life deployment next spring. The plan calls for planes to traverse a dozen Western states, mapping real forest fires 24 hours a day.

"Unmanned aircraft have the capability to do what we call the 3-D missions - the dull, dark and dangerous missions where you don't want to put a pilot on," said Vince Ambrosia, research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay area, where the experiment was done.

The use of UAVs will come with restrictions. The Federal Aviation Administration must first approve pilotless planes in civilian airspace before such planes can be routinely deployed. UAV flights are permitted on a case-by-case basis if they can be flown safely alongside passenger-carrying aircraft, FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

Overseas, spy drones such as the Global Hawk and Predator have been used in the war against terror, spotting enemies from high up and in some cases firing laser-guided missiles.

Last month, the Forest Service tested three UAVs with 12-foot wingspans - about twice that of a bald eagle - over Moffett Field.

AP Wire | 08/21/2005 | Forest officials test civilian spy planes to fight wildfires


Anonymous Cristobal said...

That must be what came down and probed me.

3:27 PM, August 22, 2005  

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