DSenette wrote:as to the trains (subway and cargo)....they're straight line transports. subways are even easier than trains because they are a multi-track/single direction system. there are never two trains on the same track going in the opposite direction unless there has been a catastrophic failure in planning. automating the subway system is about scheduling and controlling breaking/acceleration. things that are easily automated. it's all about timing and scheduling. there is basically no expectation of external variables changing (the track suddenly going to the left instead of the right. there being a car you don't know about on the track. cows. geese. etc...). cargo/passenger trains (heavy rail) are just a LITTLE more complicated because there are external variables (cars on tracks, cows, etc...) but those are pretty limited too.
As far as I know, the only point of having a human on board is as a witness for any lawsuits over suicides (intentional and otherwise) on the tracks (There might be conditions on the Great Planes when you can drive the train while looking down a telescope looking far enough to stop the train, but I doubt that is where the deaths happen). Engineers in more populated areas tend to require a lot of therapy due to seeing all the deaths that they feel some responsibility for.
Zamfir wrote:As ready noted above: the article in the OP is not about pilotless passenger aircraft. It's a test about flying unmanned drones in the same airspace as civilian aircraft. The test vehicle happened to be a small passenger plane, but that's just because that was the available test platform. For the test they needed an aircraft that could fly both piloted and by remote operation.
Due to backwards compatibility with old radar systems and the speed of modern jets, aircraft need to be spaced 3 miles apart so air traffic controls can see they aren't going to collide. Routing an UAV shouldn't be much of an issue, but it might be enough to overhaul the old system (more likely just give the UAVs certain elevations).
Adacore wrote:As I understand it, most modern airliners are almost entirely fly-by-wire. If the flight computer dies completely, then a human pilot in the plane will be able to do precisely as much nothing as a computer pilot in the plane could.
the fly-by-wire systems aren't directly fly-by-computer......there are some direct pathways to critical controls just in case all the computers on the plane take a shit (based on my understanding of the failsafes in place on modern aircraft...which totes might be wrong)[/quote]
I wouldn't count on any. There have been cases where pilots of multiengine jets have flown the plane entirely by varrying the trust on each side of the plane, and landed that way. I would hope that pilots of such craft have practiced that in a simulator and could attempt it (with some manual control over the engines) in such a case.
One thing I will throw out here is that long ago I worked for Freewing, a UAV company that somehow missed the boom (thier French connections probably didn't help). They had plans to move from Maryland to Texas, largely because the insurrance against hitting a steer in Texas is cheaper than hitting a school in Maryland (I know there are schools in some parts of Texas, but it should be much easier to get to places where there aren't compared to outside of Baltimore or DC).