Aircraft

CARNAC program to put robots in the pilot's seat

RE2 Robotics will leverage its robotic manipulation expertise, demonstrated in products like the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (pictured), to develop a drop-in robotic system that can fly a plane like a human
RE2 Robotics will leverage its robotic manipulation expertise, demonstrated in products like the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (pictured), to develop a drop-in robotic system that can fly a plane like a human
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RE2 Robotics will leverage its robotic manipulation expertise, demonstrated in products like the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (pictured), to develop a drop-in robotic system that can fly a plane like a human
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RE2 Robotics will leverage its robotic manipulation expertise, demonstrated in products like the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System (pictured), to develop a drop-in robotic system that can fly a plane like a human

Unmanned aircraft are generally either built from the ground up, with robotic systems integrated from the earliest design stages, or are existing aircraft that are extensively modified to add such systems so they can fly without a human pilot on board. But there is a third option – a drop-in robotic system that can fly an unmodified aircraft in much the same way as a human pilot. RE2 Robotics has been tapped by the US Air Force to develop such a system.

RE2 Robotics is a Carnegie Mellon spin-off located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, that has developed a bomb disposal robot with the dexterity to dismantle a bomb, keeping its components intact for forensic examination, and is working on a similarly dexterous robot intended to perform bomb disposal duties underwater.

The company will now leverage its experience in creating robots with dexterous manipulator arms to develop the Common Aircraft Retrofit for Novel Autonomous Control (CARNAC) system for the USAF after receiving a US$1.49 million contract from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Similar to the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) being developed by Aurora Flight Sciences as part of a DARPA program, CARNAC is intended to bring autonomous unmanned flight control capabilities to existing piloted craft without requiring any modifications to the aircraft.

The system will be designed to sit in the pilot's seat and operate the aircraft in the same way as a human pilot. To this end, over the course of the program the company will need to demonstrate a robotic system that can manipulate controls like a human, has vision-based flight-status recognition, and cognitive architecture-based decision making.

"By creating a drop-in robotic pilot, we have the ability to insert autonomy into and expand the capabilities of not only traditionally manned air vehicles, but ground and underwater vehicles as well," says Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics. "This application will open up a whole new market for our mobile robotic manipulator systems."

Source: RE2 Robotics

4 comments
CAVUMark
Check the windsock, notice the crosswind and just wait for the gust to lift your wing. Can't wait for the tailwheel version.
ezeflyer
Seems like a way to stave off the inevitable, autonomous drones.
Kristianna Thomas
Like that of the Industrial Revolution in the early twentieth century, there is a total change in the means of production that is causing a quantum leap in all aspects of society. Things change through quantity and quality, that leads to a quantum leap that leads to establishing a new norm; leaving the old norm behind. The world as we know it for the past one hundred years is coming to an end, and a new world is unfolding before our very eyes. Robots, will become the new cars of the future, and will displace many workers in all forms of industry. Transportation in all its myriad forms; trucking, commerce, shipping, aviation, and rail will under go a drastic change in the next fifty to one hundred years, Climate change will only accelerate the process of robotizing the industrial turn over. As a new generation becomes more imbued with technology, the more this change with cement itself in the social fabric. The exploration of space, and the need for solutions to problems here on Earth will give rise to a generation of techno savvy nerds; will they be willing to take on the challenges of solving the problems they will inherit from past generations? They may have the knowledge; will they have the wisdom to do what is needed from them? Technology is just a tool like any other tool, but having the wisdom to use it wisely is a whole different question. We learn to live with technology for the benefit of all human-kind, or we can learn to fear the reaper.
MD
Well they will need to be very dexterous in order to accurately flip all those switches, control the radios and the twist and press knobs on the GPS and control the capacitative touch screen. Or are we really just talking about the robot doing the flying "control", leaving the logistics and comms. to be dealt with by the human in the loop. Not sure how the robot will handle obtaining and complying to inflight airways clearances. Real fully autonomous ops will need to be performed in fully pre-planned, segregated IFR from start to finish (or a dedicated lane including climb and descent), for a long time, with manned operations directed around them.
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