Aviation has not had the best PR over recent months, and with disasters such as that of United Airlines vs. 69-year-old grandfather, passengers are starting to doubt whether flying is worth it all.
The following news may, however, lift the spirits of — or further terrify — frequent flyers around the world: a robot has successfully landed a Boeing 737.
Aurora Flight Sciences, which developed the robot, are bursting with pride according to sources, as the bot was able to sit in the co-pilots seat and land the simulated plane.
This has lead the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), part of the US Department of Defense team responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military, to advocate the use of robots in their planes.
With DARPA's Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, the military have evolved to incorporate automated capabilities, improving mission safety and success rates.
However according to DARPA, operators of the most automated aircraft must still manage daunting and complex interfaces and be prepared to respond effectively in emergencies and other unexpected situations that no amount of training can prepare them for.
The military will often find themselves in stressful situations and are keen to use systems that have the potential to interact with the crew; it is for this reason that the use of robots in the cockpit is becoming a highly likely option.
This is where Aurora's newly developed bot comes in, the machine is able to control the advanced tablet-based user interface and works off speech recognition.
Aurora's done this before in an actual flight, but for light aircraft. Simulating a 737 landing gets it closer to ALIAS' goal of adding a helping hand to crews of large military aircraft and potentially even using robots in passenger planes.
The technology still has come way to go, but Aurora Flight Sciences and DARPA hope that it could be beneficial for military flights and sources claim that the future for passenger planes could also be in robots' hands.
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