Aurora Flight Sciences, a company based out of Manassas, has been able to successfully use a robotic co-pilot to fly and land a Boeing 737 simulation.
According to a release, the company accomplished this as part of their work on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program.
“These accomplishments build on Aurora’s successful installation and testing of ALIAS components on a Diamond DA42, Cessna 208 Caravan, UH-1 Iroquois, and DHC-2 Beaver aircraft,” stated a release.
The company’s ALIAS technology is designed to work as a second pilot for a two-crew member aircraft, to allow for reduced crew staffing while making sure that the plane’s performance is still successful.
According to a release, the goal for ALIAS is to be “a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would promote the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft, enabling operation with reduced onboard crew.”
The simulator was able to operate and land the Boeing 737-800NG at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Massachusetts, in the event that the pilot on board was to become incapacitated, stated a release.
“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,” stated Aurora’s Vice President of Research and Development John Wissler in a release.
More on Aurora’s ALIAS program:
Aurora’s ALIAS solution includes the use of in-cockpit machine vision, robotic components to actuate the flight controls, an advanced tablet-based user interface, speech recognition and synthesis, and a knowledge acquisition process that facilitates transition of the automation system to another aircraft within a 30-day period. Aurora is also working on a version of the system without robotic actuation that instead aims to support the pilot by tracking aircraft physical, procedural, and mission states, increasing safety by actively updating pilot situational awareness.
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