Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Could Be Piloted By Gamers, Says Retired British Air Force Marshal

Unmanned aerial vehicles might just have a relatively untapped supply of pilots, according to retired British Royal Air Force Marshal Greg Bagwell. First-person shooter gamers may just have a gift for piloting drones, with hours of unofficial experience already gained.

People who play games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, or even the Tom Clancy titles have probably already yearned for the real thing. After all, they have put money into an increasingly realistic combat simulator and getting them into a real-world scenario could likely be a dream come true.

The biggest difference would be that the targets are actually real people and not digital versions of people. While some politicians and religious authorities believe that video game violence is the real thing, Bagwell sees potential in the simulated slaughter.

The retiree is one of those who oversaw Reaper drone attacks in Syria against ISIS, so his theory carries some weight. These vehicles of war are much like miniature airplanes, but piloted by remote using a military computer. That being said, there are some gamers who might be more dangerous than necessary if given access to a computer used for war-time scenarios in real life.

Immature gamers could be the biggest drawback to Bagwell's theory.

Just tap into almost any live feed of someone who is obviously too young to have legally purchased the game, and you will probably hear more immature commentary than you ever wanted. These gamers might need to undergo some evaluation before being put behind the proverbial wheel of an unmanned aerial vehicle, or there could be more friendly casualties than hostile.

Of course, there are also gamers who can behave, but we don’t hear so much from them. They tend to be ignored because it’s just not as generally entertaining to watch them play the game.

Retired British Royal Air Force Marshal Greg Bagwell is aware of this as well, as The Guardian reports.

“We need to test harder whether we can take a young 18- or 19-year-old out of their PlayStation bedroom and put them into a Reaper cabin and say: ‘Right, you have never flown an aircraft before [but] that does not matter, you can operate this.’ In order to be a very good Reaper operator you need that three-dimensional view of what is going on around you, even though you are 3,000 miles away. You are playing three-dimensional chess in your mind, so you understand how the various pieces fit together in terms of prosecuting a target.”

Unfortunately, Bagwell is also known for his controversial drone attacks on U.K. citizens supporting the Islamic State, insisting it was necessary as a kind of preventative measure. This might have been what led to him retiring this past year. His actions led to him calling for a revisiting of laws governing drones.

General Sir Richard Barrons, who also retired as of April this year, agrees with Bagwell. He was a joint forces commander in charge of those drone attacks.

The demand for drone operators is rising due to a move in the U.K. military to use autonomous and automated systems and reduce the number of men actually on the battlefield. Many former operators have quit due to what Bagwell said was incredible stress and illness.

Gamers could be naturals at operating a drone in combat.

Many first-person shooter gamers do almost the same thing for free and might only need to be taught how to use the computers to pilot actual drones. More operators could lead to fewer people quitting over the stress of the job, and many gamers these days often feel cheated when a game isn’t difficult enough.

Again, accountability could be an issue with putting first-person shooter fans in charge of actual military equipment. Drone targets are real and probably have loved ones.

[Featured Image by Mila Supinskaya Glashchenko / Shutterstock.com]