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Cockpit at the front?

The picture Reynolds provided of the new Honda jet got me thinking. Have you noticed how sci-fi continues the trend of having the control center for a vehicle up front and exposed? Naval ships started with the control station exposed on the quarterdeck. In Hornblower’s time, the captain was expendable and expected to be right out there in the midst of the battle. Things have changed. Modern navies have control rooms in protected spaces below decks. Even cargo ships are creating secured spaces in engine control rooms as a means to deal with the pirates off Somalia.

But cars and planes still place the cockpit or control center up front so the pilot or driver can actively steer the vehicle along a safe route. The need for that is changing. Experiments have shown that an airplane can be safely flown when the pilots have no access to exterior windows. Automatic parking has started to show up in automobiles to facilitate hands-off parallel parking.

That view up front is prime real estate. Even in airplanes such as the 747 that have multiple decks, the passenger deck stops short of the nose to give way to radar and other instrumentation. This paradigm follows to sci-fi where rocket ships have the control cabin in the nose. It seems that the control center needs to move to a more protected area, especially in space ships. That can increase security as well as leaving prime real estate for passengers.

It is the passengers who want to see with their eyes. The pilot, navigator, captain, helmsman and other control officers can see better with other means. If fact, if they turn into robots, they may not even have their eyesight close to their brain. Then only thing you’ll need a human for is to hit the off switch if something goes awry.

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