General Atomics has a new cockpit for their MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers, two of the most common hunt-and-kill drones used by the USAF, capable of destroying basically any ground — and some air — targets. It looks like a dream gaming setup. Heck, it even includes a gamepad (check out that guy's lap.)
According to General Atomics' Christopher Ames, there's "nothing like this in the world today."
Operators sit in front of a bank of six 24-inch monitors arranged in two horizontal rows. The upper monitors provide a 120-degree view of the battlefield using a combination of live video, synthetic images and air traffic information. The wider field of view comes from digital-terrain data fed into the left and right screens complementing the live video in the center screen.
It sounds pretty damn sleek, although this also means that "pilots" will now have an even more acute "gamer syndrome" — it would be very hard to realise this is a thing that can kill actual people if the system is making everything look sci-fi synthetic and cool in the name of combat efficiency. There's more:
The lower monitors display mission systems, maps including 3-D graphics and a general screen for chat, email and other mission applications. A quick tap of the finger to various boxes on the lower left screen brings up different systems, including the mission check list, command and control pages, and warning system.
So there you have it. Dropping laser-guided Paveway II bombs and firing Hellfire II missiles to vaporize targets — all while slurping on that 7-Eleven's Big Gulp you bought at the mall on your way to your drone cockpit station — is now easier than ever.