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Watch DARPA's autopilot system fly a turboprop plane

Next up: autopilot helicopters.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
October 18, 2016
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It'll likely take a long time before DARPA's autopilot system flies military planes on its own, but this latest demonstration proves that it works. Aurora Flight Sciences, the aviation company that's developing the technology for the agency, has successfully tested it on a Cessna Caravan turboprop aircraft. Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System or ALIAS is comprised of a robotic arm and a tablet-based user interface with speech recognition, among other components. When installed on a plane, it acts as the co-pilot in charge of flying the aircraft -- its human companions can chill and spend their time keeping an eye on the weather or looking out for any potential threats.

This is the technology's third demonstration in merely a year, following two test runs on a simulator and a Diamond DA-42 plane. But Aurora isn't done yet: the team is currently installing it on a helicopter for its next round of testing. If you want to see how a system like ALIAS flies a plane, watch the tech and its human companion pilot a Cessna in the video below.

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