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无人飞行飞机:飞行员地面呼叫  

2012-12-04 16:24:49|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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在接下来的几周里,一架双引擎喷气机将从英格兰兰开夏郡的沃顿机场起飞,向北飞向苏格兰。与任何其他航班一样,一家小型通用航空公司将会完成塔台通信,引导航路及注意避让其他飞机。但是这家飞机的飞行员将不在驾驶舱,而是留在地面——沃顿机场的一间控制室里。

Pilotless aircraft are
now widely used by the armed forces, but those drones fly only in restricted
airspace and conflict zones. The Jetstream mission is part of a project to
develop the technologies and procedures that will allow large commercial
aircraft to operate routinely and safely without pilots in the same skies as
manned civilian flights.

现在,无人驾驶飞机广泛应用于武装力量,但那些无人驾驶飞机只在有限航路和争端地区飞行。“急流”项目的目标是发展无人驾驶的大型商业客机技术及相关操作程序,使之能投入常规安全的民航运营。

Fasten your seat
belts

请系好安全带

To reassure those of a
nervous disposition, the test flights do not carry passengers and pilots remain
in the cockpit just in case things go wrong. In that way they are similar to
Google's trials of driverless cars, which have drivers inside them to take over
if necessary while on public roads. Yet unmanned commercial aircraft are likely
to enter service before people can buy autonomous cars. Modern aircraft are
already perfectly capable of automatically taking off, flying to a destination
and landing. These tests are trying to establish whether they can do those
things safely without a pilot in the cockpit and at the same time comply with
the rules of the air.

为消除心中的恐惧与不安,试验飞行没有载客,而飞行员仍坐在驾驶舱里,以备不时之需。有点像谷歌的无人驾驶汽车的试验:在公共道路上,有驾驶员坐在里面,必要时接管汽车。目前看来,无人驾驶的商业飞机有望在人们能够购买自动驾驶汽车前投入运营。现代飞机已经具有完美的起飞、飞行和着陆能力。这些试飞只是为了证明在没有飞行员的情况下,飞机能否安全完成这些任务并遵守航空规则。

Progress is being
made, a conference in London heard this week. It was organised by the Autonomous
Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment (ASTRAEA), the
group staging the British test flights. This ?62m ($99m) programme, backed by
the British government, involves seven European aerospace companies: AOS, BAE
Systems, Cassidian, Cobham, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce and Thales.

自一个本周在伦敦举行的会议获悉,该技术已经取得相应进展。会议由负责英国试飞的ASTRAEA组织。这个6200万英镑的项目获得英国政府支持,包括7家欧洲宇航公司:AOS,
BAE系统,Cassidian, Cobham, QinetiQ, 劳斯莱斯及Thales。

It is potentially a
huge new market. America's aviation regulators have been asked by Congress to
integrate unmanned aircraft into the air-traffic control system as early as
2015. Some small drones are already used in commercial applications, such as
aerial photography, but in most countries they are confined to flying within
sight of their ground pilot, much like radio-controlled model aircraft. Bigger
aircraft would be capable of flying farther and doing a lot more
things.

这个潜在的新市场十分巨大。议会已经要求美国航空监管机构让无人驾驶飞机在2015年进入航空管制系统。一些小型无人驾驶飞机已经投入商业运营,比如航拍。但在大多数国家,这些小型无人驾驶飞机被限制在地面飞行员的可视范围,很像无线电遥控的飞机模型。大型飞机有能力飞得更远,做更多事情。

Pilotless aircraft
could carry out many jobs at a lower cost than manned aircraft and
helicopters—tasks such as traffic monitoring, border patrols, police
surveillance and checking power lines. They could also operate in conditions
that are dangerous for pilots, including monitoring forest fires or
nuclear-power accidents. And they could fly extended missions for search and
rescue, environmental monitoring or even provide temporary airborne Wi-Fi and
mobile-phone services. Some analysts think the global civilian market for
unmanned aircraft and services could be worth more than $50 billion by
2020.

无人驾驶飞机可以以相较于常规飞机和直升机更低的成本完成很多工作。这些工作包括:交通监控、边境巡逻、警方监视及线路检查。它们也可用于对飞行员有危险的情况,如:监视森林火灾或者核能源事故。它们还能完成其它延展性任务,诸如:搜寻与救援、环境监测、甚至提供临时无线网络和无线电话服务。一些分析人士认为,无人驾驶飞机服务在全球民用市场的价值将在2020年超过50亿美元。

Whatever happens,
pilots will still have a role in aviation, although not necessarily in the
cockpit. "As far as the eye can see there will always be a pilot in command of
an aircraft," says Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, the director of ASTRAEA. But that
pilot may be on the ground and he may be looking after more than one unmanned
aircraft at the same time.

无论未来如何变化,飞行员都将在航空领域占有一席之地,无论他们是否需要留在驾驶舱。ASTRAEA董事Lambert
Dopping-Hepenstal说“在可以预见的未来,每架飞机都仍需要一个飞行员机长。”只是,那个飞行员可能留在地面,或许他正同时管理着几架飞机。

Commercial flights
carrying freight and express parcels might one day also lose their on-board
pilots. But would even the most penny-pinching cut-price airline be able to sell
tickets to passengers on flights that have an empty cockpit? More realistically,
those flights might have just one pilot in the future. Technology has already
relieved the flight deck of a number of jobs. Many early large aircraft had a
crew of five: two pilots, a flight engineer, a navigator and a radio operator.
First the radio operator went, then the navigator, and by the time the jet era
was well under way in the 1970s flight engineers began to disappear too. Next it
could be the co-pilot, replaced by the autonomous flight systems now being
developed.

有一天,商业货物和快件运输的飞机或许也将不再有飞行员。然而那些节俭的廉价航空公司是否可能将无人驾驶飞机的机票卖给乘客?更为现实的情况是,那些航班在未来只有一个飞行员。技术已经替代了驾驶舱中的一些工种。许多早期大型飞机机组由五个人组成:两个飞行员、一个飞行工程师、一个导航员和一个无线电操作员。首先是无线电操作员离开了驾驶舱,然后是导航员。70年代,随着喷气机时代的到来,飞行工程师们开始逐渐离开。下一步,可能是副驾被正在发展的无人驾驶系统所取代。

The flight over
Scotland will test how well air-traffic controllers can communicate with the
ground pilot through the aircraft. The project is also exploring ways to make
the radio and satellite links secure and reliable. But engineers still have to
prepare for the eventuality that the link breaks; the aircraft then has to have
enough autonomy to operate safely until communications are restored or it can
land using its own guidance systems.

飞越苏格兰的航班将测试地面控制塔经飞机与地面飞行员之间的沟通。同时这一项目也将探索无线电与卫星系统安全可靠的联系。而工程师们仍将必须准备最终通信阻断,由此直到通信再次建立,飞机必须足够的自动飞行能力,或者飞机能够依靠其自身的导航系统着陆。

Unmanned aircraft
will, therefore, need a "sense and avoid" capability. This can be provided by
transponders that bleep the aircraft's presence (and, in the case of advanced
systems, its course, altitude and speed) to other aeroplanes and air-traffic
controllers. But not all manned aircraft have such kit. Some light aircraft and
gliders operating at low altitudes in clear weather are not required to have
even radios, let alone transponders or radar. Which is why pilots keep their
eyes peeled when such traffic might be about.

综上所言,无人驾驶飞机需要一种“感知与躲避”能力。这项能力可以由收发机发出的高频信号向其它飞机和空管显示自己飞机的位置(如果是高级系统,同样还能显示高度和速度)。但并不是所有由飞行员驾驶的飞机都安装这一系统。一些在低空良好天气条件下飞行的小型飞机和滑翔机甚至不要求安装无线电设备,更不要提收发机或者雷达了。这就是为什么当可能有这些飞机从周围经过时飞行员要瞪大眼睛。

ASTRAEA's Jetstream,
therefore, also uses video cameras to allow the ground pilot to look around
outside the cockpit. Image-recognition software can warn of other aircraft. This
is being tested against different backgrounds, such as a cluttered landscape or
a hazy sky.

也因此,ASTRAEA的“急流”飞机也使用摄像机,让在地面的飞行员能看到驾驶舱窗外的情景。图像识别软件能在有其它飞机经过时发出警报。该技术正在混乱环境或多云的天空等不同背景中得到测试。

In other trials,
different aircraft are being flown in the vicinity of the Jetstream, and some of
them will be flown deliberately towards it on a potential collision course, to
see if these "intruding" aircraft can be recognised by the automated systems and
the appropriate avoiding action taken. These flights are taking place in an area
cleared of other aircraft over the Irish Sea. "The results to date suggest you
can do sense-and-avoid as well as a human," says Mr
Dopping-Hepenstal.

在其他试飞过程中,不同的飞机都被安排在“急流”附近飞行,有一些会被安排故意冲向“急流”,造成相撞征兆,以检测“突然冒出”的飞机能否被自动系统识别并采取适当避让措施。这些试飞在爱尔兰海上空,没有其它飞机的空域进行。Dopping-Hepenstal先生说:“测试结果显示无人驾驶飞机能像人类一样做到感知和防御。”

A pilotless plane
must also be able to act autonomously in an emergency. In the event of an engine
failure, for instance, it could use its navigational map to locate a suitable
area to put down. But what if this was an open field that happened to be in use
for, say, a fair? A forward-looking video camera might show a ground pilot that.
But if communications were lost the aircraft would rely on image-recognition
software and an infra-red camera to detect the heat given off by people and
machines and so decide to try to land elsewhere.

无人驾驶飞机在紧急情况下必须有主动采取相应措施的能力。比如:如果一个发动机失效,飞机可以使用其导航地图,找到一个合适的地点降落。但如果是在一个开放的公共区域呢,比如集市?一架尖端摄像机或许能告诉地面飞行员答案。可要是通信中断,飞机将依赖图像识别软件和一台能感测人们和机械散发的热量的红外照相机来寻找合适的降落地点。

The ASTRAEA
researchers are carrying out a lot of their work using flight simulators and
air-traffic-control data. But eventually they will still have to prove that
their systems can work in the real world—even during emergency landings. In
order to satisfy risk-averse aviation regulators, the researchers are working
with Britain's Civil Aviation Authority to certify a virtual pilotless aircraft
for use in civil airspace. The intention is not to certify an actual aircraft,
but for both sides to learn what will be required to do so.

ASTRAEA的研究员们有很多工作都是在模拟机上进行,或者来源于空管数据。但最终,他们必须证明他们的系统可以在真实环境中运行——甚至是紧急着陆的情况下。为满足航空业的风险规避原则,研究人员正与英国民航管理局合作,批准一架虚拟的无人驾驶飞机在民用空域飞行。其目的是不用批准一架真实的飞机,却能使双方都得到所需的信息。

Some of the
technologies being developed are also likely to find their way into manned
aircraft as a backup for pilots, and possibly for cars too. Systems that provide
automatic braking and motorway-lane control, for instance, already feature in
many types of car. These features take cars some of the way towards autonomy.
But driverless cars, like pilotless planes, will have to fit in with existing
infrastructure and regulations, not least insurance liability, before they can
take off.

探索中的一些技术也可以作为飞行员的备份系统适用于传统飞机,或许还能用在汽车上。自动刹车系统和智能交通系统已经应用于很多款汽车上。这些特性使得汽车更具自动性。但说到无人驾驶,无论汽车还是飞机,都必须在上路或者起飞之前先满足现有的基础设施和法律法规——而不仅仅是保险责任。

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