Navy Lost Control of Drone Over D.C. Due To "Software Issue"

Illustration for article titled Navy Lost Control of Drone Over D.C. Due To Software Issue

Oh, here's something. You know those "drones" that are supposed to be the "future of warfare." A software malfunction caused the Navy to lose control of one for half an hour earlier this month, letting it joyride over Washington D.C.

The charmingly named, 31-foot-long MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing unmanned aerial vehicle was flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet on August 2 when the Navy completely lost control of the craft due to, they say, a "software issue." It continued, guided only by its own probably-evil robot brain, for about half an hour, flying 23 miles into restricted airspace. The Navy re-established control when the drone was just 40 miles from the nation's capital.

Thankfully, the incident has prompted the Navy to ground all six of its Fire Scout drones while they figure out what happened. The Times says that "the Navy did not describe the scene inside the ground control station as operators sought to re-establish communication with the drone," but I'll bet they were all like "oh shit oh shit oh shit." [NYT]

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DISCUSSION

It's frightening, yet I can't seem to smirk a bit at the same time. I don't understand why they didn't fly an F-16 next to it just in case...

Did they just - "oh shit", and wait around for something to happen?