An outfit called Aurora Flight Sciences is trumpeting the fact that one of its robots has successfully landed a simulated Boeing 737. Robots – or at least auto-landing systems – land planes all the time and have done so for decades.
Aurora’s excitement is justified by the fact its robot sits in the co-pilot’s seat and used various protuberances to wield the simulator’s physical controls. Which is just what DARPA wants to see under its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program.
The idea behind ALIAS is that military air crew can often find themselves with a lot to do under very stressful circumstances, but that automating their jobs with software and avionics is going to be very costly and time-consuming. Military craft are also likely to find themselves heading for destinations that lack ground-based augmentation systems.