Droids just made their next step toward completely replacing human beings, beating out human pilots in air-to-air refueling. Last year's bot-pilots were a bit clumsy, fumbling their way through the delicate maneuver that requires a pilot to perform an operation air jockeys liken to "taking a running fuck at a rolling doughnut." But this year's bots kicked ass.
The operation, called the Autonomous Airborne Refueling Demonstration (AARD), flew 11 robotically controlled refueling missions over the past year. The droids nailed every one with near-perfect precision, and looking on during each flight was a couple of forlorn human pilots, on board just to watch over the proceedings in case something went terribly wrong (see them throwing their hands up in despair in the pic above). The droids were even able to hook up with the fueling basket while the plane was banking into a turn, a feat that most pilots won't even attempt.
Score one more for the bots, who will soon be able to completely replace humans in the cockpit and elsewhere, saving the skins of us meat puppets while risking their own innocent robot lives. Before you know it, they'll be objecting to our putting them in harm's way. [Defense Industry Daily, via The Register]