Driverless cars may have been making headlines of late, but DARPA’s ALIAS program has also been making great strides in the development of “digital pilot” technology.
The brainchild of the legendary institution DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), ALIAS easily drops into an aircraft and becomes an invisible, automated co-pilot for a human pilot.
Lockheed’s ALIAS kit is about the size of a small briefcase, meaning a pilot can easily plug it into the aircraft. In a way, it amps up its own smarts and by linking the aircraft to a controller on the ground.
Remarkably, the same ALIAS smart tech can fly both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft.
After the mission, the pilot can easily pull the kit from the helo and then take that very same kit over to a fixed wing aircraft.
The ALIAS tech has built upon five decades of plane automation. And it also leverages cutting-edge innovation for drones.
From takeoff through to landing, ALIAS can help with an entire mission. If something unexpected happens, like a system failure in flight, then ALIAS could support handling it or even address the problem itself. ALIAS could constantly monitor the health of the aircraft and enhance the maintenance, response and safety of the aircraft.
DARPA Program Director Dr. Daniel Patt explained.
“It has the brains to figure out how to fly the aircraft by itself,” he said, gesturing to the tablet in his hands. “This tablet actually talks to that system, talks to the brains of ALIAS…”
“The brain has learned and it knows how to fly the aircraft, how to hold the aircraft in a perfectly still hover inside a tiny one foot box, it will beat the performance of a human pilot… If you tell the aircraft to crash into the ground it won't let you do that,” he said. “It will keep you safe.”
ALIAS uses a software backbone designed with open interfaces along with a pilot-operated touchpad and speech recognition software. Pilots can use a touch screen or voice command to direct the aircraft to perform functions autonomously.
For instance, various check-list procedures and safety protocols such as engine status, altitude gauges, lights, switches and levers, can be more rapidly, safely and efficiently performed autonomously by computers.
“This involves the routine tasks that humans need to do but at times find mundane and boring. The ALIAS system is designed to be able to take out those dull mission requirements such as
SOURCES- DARPA, Scout, Youtube, foxnews