Aircraft

Robotic ALIAS puts Cessna Caravan through basic maneuvers

ALIAS is a DARPA program aimed at reducing the load on military flight crews
ALIAS is a DARPA program aimed at reducing the load on military flight crews
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A look at how ALIAS might work in commercial cockpits
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A look at how ALIAS might work in commercial cockpits
ALIAS isn't pretty at the moment, but flight testing proves it does work
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ALIAS isn't pretty at the moment, but flight testing proves it does work
ALIAS takes flight
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ALIAS takes flight
ALIAS is a DARPA program aimed at reducing the load on military flight crews
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ALIAS is a DARPA program aimed at reducing the load on military flight crews
Pilots are essentially reduced to flight supervisors using ALIAS
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Pilots are essentially reduced to flight supervisors using ALIAS
ALIAS should be able to take off, complete a mission and land when fully developed
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ALIAS should be able to take off, complete a mission and land when fully developed

The ALIAS system, developed by DARPA, could cut down on crew requirements in military and civilian small aircraft by taking control with a robotic arm. Although it's still a ways off production, the system has been successfully demonstrated on a Cessna Caravan aircraft.

As aircraft have become more advanced, they've also become more difficult to understand. Pilots and crew need to undergo intensive training before being let loose in the latest aircraft, and even then they can be overwhelmed by the complexity of flight systems in an emergency.

ALIAS isn't pretty at the moment, but flight testing proves it does work
ALIAS isn't pretty at the moment, but flight testing proves it does work

According to DARPA, the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) could provide a solution. Rather than retrofitting old airplane fleets with complex, expensive automated flight systems, ALIAS has been designed as an adaptable drop-in solution to lighten the load on crews. Although it's all-new, the system has its roots in DARPA's previous work in automated systems and unmanned autonomous vehicles.

When it's completely up and running, ALIAS should be able to handle a complex military mission from takeoff to landing. It should also be able to deal with emergency situations in the air, essentially reducing the human pilot to a mission supervisor by letting the computer deal with minute-to-minute flying.

Having successfully tested the system on a Diamond DA-42 earlier this year, it was recently installed in a Cessna Caravan in an attempt to prove its versatility. It pulled off a set of basic in-flight maneuvers, with a human pilot sitting alongside. The team at Aurora is now working to install it into a Bell UH-1 helicopter.

"Demonstrating our automation system on the UH-1 and the Caravan will prove the viability of our systemfor both military and commercial applications," says John Wissler, Vice President of Research & Development at Aurora, which has been working on the project. "ALIAS enables the pilot to turn over core flight functions and direct their attention to non-flightrelated issues such as adverse weather, potential threats or even updating logistical plans."

Watch ALIAS flying the Cessna in the video below.

Source: Aurora

Aurora's Robotic Copilot Automated Flight System Flies Cessna Caravan

1 comment
toyhouse
I know this story mentions the cessna and the a.i. flying it, but on a side note, the diamond mentioned here is such an amazing aircraft on many levels. Someone at the local airfield, central coast of cali, often leaves in the early mornings then heads north. It's very quiet and so beautiful in the air with it's twin diesel engines making a strange kind of whirring sound as it climbs quickly away. Nothing else around like it. I have no problem, (except for the lack of many $s ), seeing myself up there flying in it instead of the owner, lol. I am envious. Sorry for daydreaming out loud.
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