The Future of War conference, Day One: Falling behind in drones and robotics

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Media Outlet: Foreign Policy

I was surprised by the amount of concern expressed that the United States has fallen behind in building drones. Peter Singer called the Predator a Model T, likening the phrase “unmanned aircraft” to “horseless carriage.” Mary Cummings, a former Navy fighter pilot now teaching at Duke, said that “we have lost the cutting edge” in both robotics and drones. She added that, “My students can over the weekend” build a better drone that the U.S. military possesses. One of the problems, she said, is that there isn’t enough profit in building drones for the big defense companies to be much interested in the area. The real talent in designing drones is going to Amazon, Google and Oracle, she said.  

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Thomas Ricks is an ASU Future of War senior fellow at New America  He also is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the blog “The Best Defense.”