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US Navy's X-47B so autonomous it can be steered with mouse clicks

April 13, 2011 - Washington

The US Navy's experimental X-47B combat system will be almost completely autonomous and handled with just simple mouse clicks.

Representatives from both Northrop Grumman (maker of the X-47B) and the Navy said the X-47B would be piloted not by human handlers in some steel box in Nevada, but by 3.4 million lines of software code, Fox News reported.

The rest of its functions will be handled by non-pilot personnel, as they will only require clicks of the mouse; a click to turn on the engines, a click to taxi, a click to initiate takeoff, etc.

The X-47B has already taken to the skies from Edwards AFB earlier this year, but this is a Navy plane. As such, it will begin "learning" the ins and outs of carrier operations via simulated takeoffs and landings starting in 2013.

If all goes well, the X-47B could be autonomously showing Navy pilots how to put a multimillion aircraft down on a sea-tossed carrier deck by 2014.


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