One of the most fun trips that I have had the pleasure of taking involved a ride on KC 135 – the U.S. Air Force refueling tanker. We flew from Pease Air Force base to San Diego. We were supposed to refuel a couple of fighter jets, but weather prevented that. We did get to lie down in the boom operator’s prone position – amazing. We also got to take a tour of a Los Angeles class nuclear attack sub on that trip, visit the home of Top Gun and sit in a Tom Cat fighter jet. How about that?
Okay back to the story. Autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) is an important capability for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to have, enabling its flying range and endurance to be increased without increasing its size.
In this article in Vision Systems Design they report on the work being done at Advanced Scientific Concepts (Santa Barbara, CA, USA) to use Flash LiDAR to aid in docking. The ability to collect 3D video in real time and through fog make Flash an interesting technology.