Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Drones work better without pilots (Score 1) 253

Are drones a way around the idiotic restriction on the army's use of fixed wing aircraft?

For now. But the USAF is already limiting the characteristics of the drones the Army can use. I would not be surprised if eventually the US Army was restricted to using itsy bitsy drones like the RQ-11 Raven.

Comment Re:Wait... what sort of comparison is that? (Score 1) 253

Actually some drones have had Stinger air to air missiles. However Stingers are not particularly effective at downing enemy fighter aircraft.

To use full blown air to air missiles the drone would require more payload and a radar or IRST sensor. Which would put drone costs way up. Also typically a lot of the initial kinetic energy during launch is provided by the airplane flying at Mach speeds. That is why this isn't being done in drones at the moment.

Comment Re:The time has come to move forward (Score 1) 253

Actually it is a lot worse than that. In the UK at least there was a claim back then that bombers had been made obsolete due to the existence of ballistic missiles. Since the job of the air to air defenses was to prevent bombing, fighters were supposed to be a waste of time and resources.

Then again this was also the time when Khrushchev had his pet missile tank project.

Comment Re:Hit and runs are NEVER "accidents". (Score 2) 413

It is possible to accidentally perform the actual hit. To run afterwards means you either knew you hit the person and then had depraved indifference to the potential to stop and assist and just maybe save that person's life, or that you were so unaware of what you were doing that you had a legal obligation not to drive in that condition, and the depraved indifference enters automatically at that point even if it's before the collision even happened. That's how my state views a hit and run fatality - you can't do one accidentally, because at some point in the process you had to deliberately decide to do what you did even if it resulted in you killing somebody. That's manslaughter at minimum, usually with aggravating conditions. Try and claim to a judge that the whole thing was somehow accidental and see what happens - it's a good way to get the maximum sentence.

Comment Re:Real War (Score 1) 253

It depends on the usage scenario. Remote controlled drones are less responsive than a regular fighter aircraft. Especially when the controller is a continent away. This can make a lot of difference when you are attempting to do air-to-air combat. Modern fighter aircraft have radars which can track multiple targets at once. They can also carry a lot of air to air missiles. Drones keep getting bigger and more expensive as time goes by. Pilots are more resilient to jamming and cracking than remote controlled drones or AI controlled drones. Ferrying is mostly taken care of with the usage of autopilot already.

The F-35 has a lot of issues and being manned is the least of them.

Comment Re:Sure that's the reason (Score 2) 79

That makes far too much sense. And to top it off, where such a philosophy would have been normal in the early days of the personal computer industry, cooperation between businesses to where everyone can succeed does not align with the modern douchebag corporate philosophy, where it is not enough for a company to be a success, but all competitors must ultimately fail. And if that is not possible, scorch the land.

But how much cooperation is "too much"?

Would the eBook publishers "cooperating" to make eBooks more successful be considered "too much"? The DoJ thought so.

Would Apple, Microsoft, Google all banding together make for a better place? Or perhaps if Apple "gave up" on OS X, and joined Microsoft to help make Windows better? You know, after all, it had like 98% marketshare at that point over a decade and a half ago.

A form of cooperation is collusion, and trust me, even in the early PC industry, competition was king. Sure a lot of people helped each other, but a lot of others competed. The early days of the Homebrew Computer Club were all about bragging rights, a form of competition.

Perhaps Apple and Google should've cooperated and they could fold Android into iOS, and leave us with one true smartphone OS.

When businesses start acting nice to each other, it's time to worry.

Comment Not really (Score 5, Insightful) 353

From T3rdFA:

The XL1 has a 27-hp electric battery, which can propel it about 31 miles on its own, up to 62 mph. It can fully recharge, Volkswagen says, in an hour and a half. The maximum speed overall, using the full hybrid drivetrain, is 94 mph. Thereâ(TM)s a 2.6-gallon fuel tank, which lets the XL1 achieve a total range of 310 miles

So subtract the 31 miles on battery, leaving 279 miles on gas, and it can get 107.3 MPG on gas alone. The 262 MPG figure probably comes from a shorter test drive where the first 31 miles were on battery, the remainder on gas, then attributing the total distance to gas. Which if I did my math right is a 52.5 mile run.

Thing is, if you're going to cheat this way, why not just make it a 32 mile run and claim your car gets over 3400 MPG.

It's also worth pointing out that outside of research, these ultra-high mileage vehicles are rather pointless. MPG is the inverse of fuel consumption, so higher MPG means smaller savings. e.g. Consider a trip of 300 miles in a variety of different cars:

15 MPG SUV = 20 gallons consumed
25 MPG sedan = 12 gallons consumed
50 MPG hybrid = 6 gallons consumed
100 MPG research car = 3 gallons consumed
300 MPG super-car = 1 gallon consumed

So if you consider a switch from an SUV to a super-car on a 300 mile trip, where exactly do the 19 gallons of fuel saved come from?

8 gallons saved comes from the 10 MPG jump from 15 to 25 MPG.
6 gallons saved comes from the 25 MPG jump from 25 to 50 MPG.
3 gallons saved comes from the 50 MPG jump from 50 MPG to 100 MPG.
2 gallons saved comes from the 200 MPG jump from 100 MPG to 300 MPG.

The biggest fuel savings comes from the low end of the MPG range. The smallest savings from the high end. Or in other words, in a SUV to super-car switch:

42.1% of the fuel savings comes from the 15-25 MPG jump
31.6% of the fuel savings comes from the 25-50 MPG jump
15.8% of the fuel savings comes from the 50-100 MPG jump
10.5% of the fuel savings comes from the 100-300 MPG jump

Diminishing returns says the cost-effectiveness of improving mileage rapidly drops off above about 50 MPG. If we want to reduce overall fuel consumption, we should be concentrating on ad campaigns to get people out of gas guzzlers into smaller cars. Not concentrating on designing ultra-high mileage vehicles.

Comment Re:I remember being puzzled by that chapter (Score 2) 423

OK, an airline isn't a military institution, but still. The 'chain of command' theory of management is hardly unique to Asia.

It depends.

In North America, a lot of pilots are civilians who enter the airlines - because in North America, we have an affordable air system (General Aviation). In Europe, it's expensive, so only the rich can afford to fly GA. In Asia, it's unheard of (China's pretty much only got a handful of GA allowed airports).

As civilian pilots, it's a lot easier to be "flat" and say that everyone is responsible for the safety of the flight above all - the captain is just whoever occupies the left seat, but all is responsible. This is the basis of what we call today "Cockpit Resource Management", aka CRM. In any emergency, a skillful pilot flying (captain, copilot, whoever) will delegate tasks to everyone else (which also includes ATC and everyone who can help). The "Miracle on the Hudson" is a very stunning recent example of this.

But in Asia, this is not the case. In fact, the only way to fly in most countries is to join the military. As such, the national airlines are almost all pulled from ex-military pilots (they do poach a few civilian pilots from other countries). So now, you have established a military hierarchy in the cockpit. So the captain may have been a captain before leaving, and the copilot may be a Lt., and even though the copilot may have more experience in the plane, Captain trumps Lt., and military rank trumps all. The captain is "untouchable" for the flight and what he says is law.


It wasn't too long ago that even North American pilots were like this - the left seater trumps all. However, a brilliant set of realizations 50 years ago brought forth CRM and it took a few years to retrain everyone into this new line of thinking. It still did happen now and then, but frequency dropped significantly. These days, it's expected and taught, even to the single engine Cessna pilot - because the "C" can also mean "crew" - if you have passengers, have them keep a look out as well to ensure safety of flight.

Comment Re:I remember being puzzled by that chapter (Score 2) 423

It also doesn't seem like it would be relevant in this case. According to Korean newspapers, the trainee pilot in command of the B777 (Lee Kang-kook) with just 43 hours on the B777 was 46 years old. The training co-pilot (Lee Jeong-min) with 3200 hours on the B777 was 49 years old. So even if the cultural age-based hierarchy were there, it would've been present as deference to the more experienced pilot.

If it was the older and more experienced pilot who screwed up and failed to note the dangerously low airspeed, pretty much any trainee pilot from any culture would've figured his trainer knew what he was doing. The Korean Ministry of Transportation has already stated that ultimate responsibility lay with Lee Jeong-Min, as he was the trainer on the flight.

Comment Re:Economic Development Administration? (Score 1) 254

Difference is when a private company pulls a stunt like taking down its entire IT system, customers start to abandon it and head to a competitor. If they screw up badly enough, they go bankrupt and everyone who worked there is out of a job. That creates a huge incentive to do things in a manner least disruptive to their customers.

When a government agency pulls the same stunt, they tell the customers "f- you, wait in line like a good citizen while we get everything worked out, because we're the government. We have a monopoly on the service we're providing so you're subservient to us, not the other way around." No matter how badly they screw it up, they can't go bankrupt because their department was created in order to fulfill a need; and as long as the legislature says that need needs to be fulfilled, there has to be a department to do it. (This is the same reason why vendor lock-in and monopolies are bad in private industry. I've often wondered if government could be made more efficient by, as counter-intuitive as this sounds, creating two agencies for each job/service. Force them to compete for funding based on customers serviced or data requests fulfilled per dollar spent, and scale the pay of everyone who works there accordingly.)

Comment Re:Spent $x million on what? (Score 1) 224

Personally I would be more inclined to use AR rather than VR glasses. VR glasses try to replace your entire field of vision and they often lag enough that it causes motion sickness. AR does not have these issues to nearly the same degree. Any prototype is going to look like that since many forms of miniaturization are lousy to use during the experimentation phase and some are indeed only doable on large scale manufacturing plants. One example is surface mounted technology.

Yes any glasses are annoying to use. Especially if you already need to use a set of prescription glasses of your own.

Slashdot Top Deals

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam