Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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LETTER 47 February/March 2018 unmanned systems inside Autonomous technolog ies were on the lips of several other presenters during the two-day Brussels event, and hearing high- level European political types talking about drones and driverless cars in a large public forum would have been encouraging to the unmanned systems community. And then one might wonder whether some of these policy- makers weren't just repeating buzzwords. In another conference session, MEP and big- time politician Christian Ehler cracked wise about politicians sometimes understanding the complexities of highly technical space sys- tems, or not. While politicians may or may not under- stand all of the 'hardware' issues at play, it is certain the technical and business communi- ties remain perplexed at the political issues at play, for example in getting a European drone regulation in place. The proposed EU RPAS (drone) regulation, which the Commission worked diligently to put together in partner- ship with air safety authorities, has now lan- guished for years, lost in an opaque negotiat- ing process somewhere within the halls of the EU Council and Parliament. At this rate, the regulation is sure to be at least partly obsolete by the time it finally sees the light of day. Beyond Earthly Obstacles One question that concerns us is what will be the role of drones and other unmanned systems as humans look outwards, into space and into the future. Bulc started her presentation by citing her compatriot Herman Potočnik Noordung's 1929 book, 'The Problem of Space Travel', in which he addressed, among other things, the long-term human habitation of space. "There is only one thing he described in the book that we haven't achieved yet," Bulc said. "'The self-realization of humanity will only be completed by the transfer of earth's culture to other space bodies'," citing Potočnik. "Maybe this is our opportunity to populate other planets," she concluded. For his part, ESA Director General Jan Woerner told us he does not want to see hu- mans colonizing other celestial bodies, at least not yet. "I'm not that person asking for settlements on the moon or Mars, meaning that people would stay there for life and raise families, etc., I am not," he said. "Because I believe that to live in a tin can is not what humans should do w ith their lives." On the other hand, sending hu- mans to the moon or to Mars and then returning them to Ear th, he said, w ill certainly become a more commonplace occurrence. W hen Woer ner f irst descr ibed his concept of a 'Moon Village' some years ago, commentators raised their eyebrows, some even referring to the idea as 'silly'. But the Moon Village is no longer a laughing matter. Woerner has described the project, though he insists it is not a project, as being open to any and all inter- ested parties and nations. There are no rules as to the form of their participation: autonomous robotic and astronaut activities are equally regarded. It will likely include not only scientif ic and technological activi- ties, but also activities based on exploiting resources or even tourism. "The idea is to put together different ele- ments from different actors," Woerner said, "robots, humans, companies, technologies and so on. We have described a matrix where the columns are different activities like trans- portation, landing, drilling, mining, whatever, energy, navigation and so on, and the rows are the different actors. We have collected signa- tures worldwide from actors supportive of the Moon Village idea and now they can put in this matrix where they have a demand and where they have an offer and by matching these roles we will move forward." "WE NEED IT FOR EVERYTHING, FOR POLICY CHOICES, TO MAKE SURE THAT WE MAKE THE RIGHT POLICY DECISIONS, BUT ALSO IN VERY CONCRETE AREAS, FOR EXAMPLE HOW TO MAKE OUR FUTURE AUTOMATED AND CONNECTED CARS SAFE FOR OUR ROADS." Maroš Šefčovič Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union

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