The Army's Universal Remote Control

The Army faces the same problem controlling the increasingly large number of unmanned gizmos it has deployed as folks at home face trying to operate multiple electronic products -- too many remote control gadgets.

So, Maj. Mark Taylor told me the service has started to develop a universal controller that will run a variety of unmanned systems that fly, crawl or -- in the case of some sensors -- just sit there.

Taylor definitely knows what he is talking about, as his title (assistant program manager, common controller) clearly defines his job. The Army common controller looks like a home universal remote on steroids, with sort of a Star Wars front panel.

The common controller will start making its way to troops in 2013-2014, Taylor told me, with functions added as the Army adds more unmanned gizmos. One disclaimer: It should not be used to run a home theater system.