|By Kevin Benedict||
|August 7, 2012 07:45 AM EDT||
I read an interesting article this week titled I AM War Plane that was published in the August 2012 edition of the magazine Popular Science. It was written by Clay Dillow and explored the new mobile technology that permits unmanned fighter planes to fly from specialized aircraft carriers.
The prototype plane, X-47B, is the world's first autonomous warplane, and first unmanned plane ever to land on a carrier. By autonomous, the author means the ability to, in real-time, "assess fluid situations and form dynamic responses."
It is a stealth plane designed to deliver strikes or perform reconnaissance. This plane is now part of the U.S. military's approximately 10,000 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its inventory. Here is the connection to enterprise mobility - these planes are loaded with remote sensors, video, radar, infrared and all kinds of mobile technology that is securely synchronizing with a back-office server in real time. This is an incredible glimpse into the future of enterprise mobility.
In addition to all of the cool technology already mentioned, this plane's robotic brain makes all the moment-to-moment decisions on its own. Yes, its mission is still controlled by people, but its tactical flight tasks are left to the UAV's on-board brain. This brain enables it to operate in complex settings. It can process vast amounts of flight data, make near-instantaneous decisions and guide itself to a flawless landing on the deck of a heaving aircraft carrier.
The X-47B uses many sensors that you can find in an iPhone. It uses GPS equipment, accelerometers, altimeters and gyroscopes, plus a trunk load of classified equipment and sensors.
The author notes that one of the biggest advances in this UAV is the software that enables it to translate the on-board sensor data into decisions and commands that are sent to the flight computer. This data must be translated and processed fast enough to enable successful and tricky landings on the deck of a moving ship that is buffeted by wind, rain and waves.
The X-47B is flying today. The military's technology of today, will be in the commercial sector tomorrow.
The X-47B is not just a demonstration of mobile communications, remote sensors and artificial intelligence, but also a demonstration of M2M (machine-to-machine) communication. SAP has recently sponsored a new M2M initiative (http://mobileenterprisestrategies.blogspot.com/2012/05/sap-announces-new-m2m-initiative.html) and I am seeing more mention of M2M in the SAP ecosystem. Some SAP partners like ILS Technology also have dedicated M2M solutions that are integrated with SAP.