I’m sure that most of you have seen all the Fed Ex airplanes at the “Hub” in the film Cast Away. Yes, they really do need all those planes to get all of our stuff to the proper place, and FedEX CEO Fred Smith sees a better way.
His vision is simple: robot planes. Yes, I know, there are many safety concerns with these. What Fred Smith envisions are not these autonomous planes that fly on their own to select locations, but rather an idea where one plane with a real human pilot leads a fleet of robotic planes around the world and makes certain they land properly at their proper destination. In other words, robot planes that fly in V formation like geese, with a human plane in the lead.
Yes, this sounds like something like science fiction, but you know that there are several UAV robot drones that work for the military. However, you should also know that UAVs are not supposed to fly over residential areas. Therefore, FedEx is going to have to get a lot of clearance to pull off something like this.
In a related story, some researchers at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base want to build some robots that can load and unload planes. I suppose that we’re on our way to completely removing the human from the shipping equation. This might not be a good thing in the long run.