A robot developed by Aurora Flight Sciences could one day remove the burden of labor from human pilots.
A robot co-pilot has successfully flown and executed the landing of a Boeing 737 in a simulated flight environment. The robot, called Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit System (ALIAS), was designed by Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences and developed as part of a wider project that hopes to increase the use of automation in the cockpit.
The robot was created by Aurora for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Just like a human co-pilot, ALIAS uses vision to assist the pilot with in-flight duties. The visual data picked up by the robot is then synthesized and analyzed by computer. In addition to this, ALIAS is also capable of manning a plane’s cockpit controls.
Furthermore, the robot can both recognize speech as well as formulate its own synthetic speech, thus communicating with a human pilot.
The idea is that ALIAS could one day remove some of the burden of labor from human pilots and co-pilots operating within the cockpit. While human pilots are of course highly skilled and trained, it is thought that this robotic system could help to ensure consistency of response in difficult flight conditions.
Speaking to Sky News, John Wissler, Aurora’s vice president of research and development, said, “Having successfully demonstrated on a variety of aircraft, ALIAS has proven its versatile automated flight capabilities. As we move towards fully automated flight from take-off to landing, we can reliably say that we have developed an automation system that enables significant reduction of crew workload.”