San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said Monday its tanker drone has successfully demonstrated taxi operations on an simulated aircraft carrier deck with operators using Wii-like controllers.

“This demonstration proves that the GA-ASI solution will integrate into existing ship operations, and that translates into less time spent steaming into the wind for launches and recoveries,” said David R. Alexander, president of the aircraft systems division.

The test involved a Predator C Avenger jet that would be the basis of the planned MQ-25 automated tanker.

Ground personnel were able to direct the test aircraft using special director wands that are the same size, shape, and weight as those used today. Gesture-recognition algorithms in the wands react to standard Navy signals used on aircraft carriers.

“MQ-25 will be able to ‘talk back’ to the controller and other flight deck personnel using a small series of LEDs that change colors and/or flash to show that they have received a command and indicate the aircraft’s condition or operating state,” said Alexander.

“To give you an idea of how the system works, think Wii for aircraft control,” he added.

General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Boeing are vying for the contract to build automated air tankers for the Navy.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.