US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a “digital pilot” technology that can fly military aircraft on its own.
DARPA’s digital pilot technology ALIAS (ALIAS Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System) easily drops into an aircraft and becomes an invisible, automated co-pilot for a human pilot.
ALIAS has potentiality to eventually fly all sorts of military aircraft on its own, and it could even fly commercial jets like the ones Americans take to visit family or go on vacation, Fox News reported Thursday.
Two teams are currently joining forces with DARPA to make ALIAS a reality. One is Aurora Flight Sciences and another firm is Lockheed Martin Sikorsky. Finally, any one of them will go on to win the ALIAS contract.
ALIAS automation kit is a combination of hardware and software and it makes aircraft very smart, enhanced with a digital co-pilot.
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 is also capable to continuously monitor the health of the aircraft and enhance the maintenance, response and safety of the aircraft.
“It has the brains to figure out how to fly the aircraft by itself. Moreover, it can actually talks to that system, talks to the brains of ALIAS,” DARPA Program Director Dr. Daniel Patt explained.
“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.