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Forget Self-Driving Cars – the Pentagon Wants Autonomous Ships, Choppers, and Jets


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Boeing 'loyal wingman' aircraft

Pentagon officials envision an autonomous 'loyal wingman' aircraft, such as this one under development by Boeing, being paired with a traditional jet fighter.

Credit: Boeing

From pilotless jets engaging in dogfights to huge undersea vessels ferrying troops, the Pentagon is pushing to increase the U.S. military's use of automation.

Defense moves are outpacing commercial automation efforts in the air, on the ground, and beneath the waves as officials seek to counter American adversaries' technological advances, according to current and former national-security and industry officials.

That progress — highlighted in cockpits managed primarily by computers, totally autonomous helicopters, and automated aerial-refueling tankers — is likely to show up in future civilian aircraft, advanced air-traffic-control systems, and a range of drone applications.

Programs meant to supplement and eventually replace human operators are accelerating in every branch of the U.S. armed services.

From The Wall Street Journal
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