Navy Renegade Drone Wanders Off

A very scary incident, if looked at through the eyes of those claiming robots will take over the world, took place earlier this month over Washington DC airspace. A Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Navy Fire Scout belonging to the US Navy went out its computerized mind and flew right into DC airspace because of a “software issue.”

According to the Navy, the drone, which is built pretty much as a miniature helicopter, was uncontrollable for 30 minutes and traveled 23 miles (37 km) into restricted airspace, reaching a point no more than 40 miles (64 km) away from the US capital.

As a result of the incident, The New York Times reports that the Navy grounded all six such drones they are currently testing.

The Fire Scouts have a maximum altitude of 20,000 ft. (6 km) and a top speed of over 125 knots. The drones are based on the Schweizer Aircraft commercial airframe and operate using a turbine which runs on standard NATO heavy fuel.

It can provide its operators with Over The Horizon (OTH) targeting, battle damage assessment and is fully interoperable between land and sea-based systems.

The incident itself is not cause for worrying, as the Fire Scouts are being used by the Navy for surveillance missions over the US, and not search and destroy. Even among battle drones used in the Iraqi and Afghan theaters of war, the failure rate is quite common.

According to a report by The Los Angeles Times, about 80 drones have failed, causing at least an $1 million budget hole per crash. That's about $80 million...
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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