A robot can successfully land a Boeing 737 in a simulator in the year 2017. Hmm.

A new video shows an autonomous ‘robot pilot’ successfully flying and landing a Boeing 737 in a simulator.
The creepy robotic arm shifts around the cockpit as it rhythmically changes the air speed, adjusts the wing flaps and fires up the thrusters in preparation for landing.

The project has been masterminded by the US Department of Defence’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

The successful test takes the technology one step closer to transforming military planes and helicopters into autonomous flying machines. 

Named Alias (Aircrew Labour In-Cockpit Automation System), the versatile robot pilot has previously flown a Cessna aircraft and even a helicopter. 

The robot sits in the copilot seat and uses a system of cameras and sensors to monitor the plane’s mosaic of dials, gauges and switches.

It feeds this information into a processor which calculates what the system’s next move should be.
The arm can move switches and control the throttle while the system also has actuators that shift the craft’s rudder and control column.

Alias was tested in a Boeing 737-800NG simulator at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


My first thought was, isn’t this a bit like inventing a robot to sit and type at your computer keyboard? Why not just improve the jet’s existing built-in autopilot? 

[I was going to say more, but then recalled being flipped off at the entrance to Area 51 not long ago… Don’t drone me bro.]

The point of the Aircrew Labour In-Cockpit Automation System seems to be that it can fly multiple aircraft, not just this particular jumbo passenger jet. 

Operators are standing by to take your order.


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