S/L J. J. Thurmeier

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Resent Technological developments indicate that the role of the human is dimishing in all areas of air and space operations; in fact that role is disappearing in some areas. Not long ago, perhaps twenty years or so, human senses provided a knoweledge of attitude, direction, speed and other characteristics of flight. Having sensed these actual parameters, the human brain compared them with the desired ones and calculated the amount of correction, if any, that was required to direct teh vehicle along the most desirable path. These corretions were applied to the vehicle through a linkage which normally began with human limbs. Air operations really consisted of sensing, computintg and actuating, thus completing a sensor-computer-actuator loop as frequently as possible, and thereby allowing a minumum of error to build up. Now we find that in all three elements of this loop, the automatic device is quicker, more accurate, and more predictable. There is no longer any real doubt as to the eventual automation of many of the tasks historically performed by human senses, intelligence, and limbs. In the transition period between the fullly manual operation of yesterday and the fully automatic operation of tomorrow, an interetin set of problems faces the aircrew of military air forces. Viewed from a technical approach, this is the period of redundancy in which, to varying degrees, the sensing, computing and actuating performance is done manually or automatically or, as in the case of some aspects of the CF-104, by a combination of both, on a sort of "fly by wire" basis. There are certain aspects of this transition to automation that bear examination, if we are to ralize maximum performance from both the manual and automatic functions that constitute the solution to present and near future operational problems. If we examine the original sensor-computer-actuator loop one element at a time, some of the impact of technology becomes clearer. Characteristic of the improvements of sensors is the ability of sensing and measuring, with a high degree of accuracy, the rate of motion, which is velocity, and the rate of change of motion which is acceleration. Computer developments, both in the ability to solve a wide variety of problems and the accuracy with which they are solved, have surpassed human performance in most aspects other than availability, because of cost, and reliabilty. In equating human with automatic actuators a similar picture unfolds, and examination of the damping devices of the CF-104 or the BLUE BLind Landing System serves to emphasize how essential automatic actuators are, and will be, in present and future air operations.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 11, Number 1
Pages: 59 - 64
Cite this article: Thurmeier, S/L J. J., "FROM HERE TO AUTOMATION", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 11, No. 1, Spring 1964, pp. 59-64.
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