Fancy yourself as a tasty videogamer? Then you might soon want to pursue a career in the army. Joypad dexterity, that most 21st-century of skills, is poised to assume a key role on the battlegrounds of Afghanistan and Iraq, now that defence contractor Raytheon has announced plans to use videogame technology in its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones.
Currently, the larger, armed British and American UAV drones buzzing around Afghanistan and Iraq are operated from a base in Arizona, using aircraft-style joysticks and visual data from on-board videocameras. Raytheon claims to have built a system based on the Xbox 360 processor which generates a videogame-like view using accurately mapped terrain, and will replace the joysticks, which become unwieldy over the course of eight-hour shifts, with lower-input controllers. Indeed, many of the smaller, unarmed, hand-launched UAVs already use controllers similar to those of the Xbox 360.