A robotic arm that can handle an airplane

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The system is capable of handling the panel of a Boeing 737, from takeoff to landing

DARPA

In collaboration with Aurora Flight Sciences, the United States Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has developed a robotic arm capable of taking off and landing a Boeing 737, but for now, it is only a simulation.

The robotic pilot is called ALIAS, an acronym corresponding to Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System. In the tests that were imposed, it has managed to go beyond what an autopilot covers in its normal operations.

Generally, commercial flights use autopilot in the phases of ascent, cruise, descent and approach. It can also be used for landing, but always with human supervision. It can never be used in the “taxi phase” (when traveling on the runway or the terminal).

The great achievement of ALIAS is to be able to handle accurately the panel of a Boeing 737, from the takeoff to the landing. The robotic arm includes a voice recognition and synthesis system that allows you to interact with the human pilot, although you can also choose to do it through a tablet.

According to Jessica Duda, head of the Aurora Flight Sciences Human and Autonomy group, the system has some “intelligence” when it comes to identifying emergency situations. In addition, it can be integrated as an extension of the autopilot system in any aircraft Passengers.

At the moment, ALIAS has achieved good results in the simulator, and according to Aurora Flight Sciences the following will be transferred to a real airplane.

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