As drones become more controversial, the government is digging deeper into the technology to make it more useful. Case in point: the US Navy make history by developing a specialized drone that can takeoff and land from and aircraft carrier. The X-47B, as it's called, is in its prototype stages, and it marked the first time that an unmanned aerial vehicle has taken off from an aircraft carrier.
The X-47B is fully autonomous, meaning that it's controlled automatically with computer software so that there doesn't need to be a pilot to fly it, although someone could take control if need be. The new prototype drone is also designed specifically for aircraft carriers, and it's made to take off and land just like a normal fighter jet would on an aircraft carrier.
The drone has a maximum altitude of over 40,000 feet with a range of more than 2,100 nautical miles. As for the speed of the drone, the Navy doesn't disclose exact figures, but simply refers to its top speed as "high subsonic." However, the drone is the size of a full-size fighter jet, and looks quite similar to a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk.
There has been increasing controversy over drones, though, and some countries say that the drone strikes are causing widespread civilian deaths since they operate with little human interaction, but that doesn't seem to be stopping the US military for advancing the program and sending out more drones overseas. Plus, people here in the US are even concerned themselves over the privacy issues that drones create.
In any case, the next step for the X-47B drone is to land on the aircraft carrier, which is a much more difficult task than taking off, but there's already video proof of the new prototype drone making a test landing on the ground to see if it could land on such a short runway on an aircraft carrier, and from the looks of it, a landing looks very much possible at this point.
VIA: CBS News
SOURCE: Navy Live