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Air Force Flight-Tests ROBOpilot Anew

Artificial intelligence

Air Force Flight-Tests ROBOpilot Anew

The Air Force Research Laboratory has brought back its experimental robot pilot for a flight test at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. 

ROBOpilot was first flight-tested in August 2019 but was later grounded after being damaged in a landing accident. On Sept. 24, the Air Force returned ROBOpilot to the skies for a 2.2-hour test flight in a new Cessna 206 over Utah. 

“Since this is a completely new build with a different Cessna 206, we re-accomplished the flight test points completed on our first flight last year. ROBOpilot is too good an idea to let the mishap derail the development of this technology," said Marc Owens, ROBOpilot's program manager. 

The technology was the result of a Small Business Innovative Research award granted to DZYNE Technologies by AFRL's Center for Rapid Innovation

ROBOpilot was designed to operate an aircraft without requiring major permanent modifications. Operators only need to replace the pilot's seat with ROBOpilot.

The aircraft can later be returned to a manned system by removing ROBOpilot and reinstalling the pilot's seat. 

The artificial intelligence system was designed to be able to interact with aircraft controls the same way a human does. ROBOpilot also sports its own internal global positioning system and inertial measurement unit.

Without directly interfacing with the aircraft, ROBOpilot can scan the gauges on its dashboard for information about the aircraft and its position. 

“The CRI and DZYNE team analyzed the findings and incorporated the recommendations to ensure the success of this latest test. We determined the cause of the mishap, identified the best course of corrective action and we’re very pleased to be flight testing again,” Owens said.  

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Tags: Air Force Research Laboratory artificial intelligence C4ISRNET Center for Rapid Innovationm Cessna 206 DZYNE Technologies Future Trends manned aircraft Marc Owens ROBOpilot Small Business Innovative Research U.S. Air Force unmanned system