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April 22, 2014

DARPA seeks to develop new automation system to reduce pilot workload

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new programme to help reduce pilot workload, as well as improve mission performance and safety of the military aircraft.

ALIAS system

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a new programme to help reduce pilot workload, as well as improve mission performance and safety of the military aircraft.

The aircrew labor in-cockpit automation system (ALIAS) programme seeks development of a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit, which would facilitate the addition of high levels of automation into current aircraft, thereby enabling operation with reduced onboard crew.

Specifically, the programme aims to build on the considerable progress achieved in aircraft automation systems over the last 50 years, and the advances made in remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) automation, to provide portable and flexible advanced autopilot capabilities.

DARPA programme manager Daniel Patt said: "Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface.

"These capabilities could help transform the role of pilot from a systems operator to a mission supervisor directing intermeshed, trusted, reliable systems at a high level."

"Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface."

Apart from executing a planned mission from takeoff to landing, even during contingency events, such as aircraft system failures, the ALIAS is also expected to serve as a platform for facilitating additional automation or autonomy capabilities tailored for specific missions.

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Required to operate aircraft functions to provide automated operation, the ALIAS system is anticipated to leverage existing host aircraft procedural information, flight mechanics information or models, or other methods of rapidly developing requisite aircraft information, to support adaptation across different aircraft in a short duration.

The programme is expected to culminate in a robust demonstration, which will commence with ground-based development and demonstration of a prototype system with one aircraft type, and advance to a proof-of-concept flight test involving porting the system to a different aircraft type.

A Proposers’ Day to familiarise potential participants with the technical objectives of ALIAS programme is scheduled to take place on 14 May, at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Virginia, US.


Image: The ALIAS programme seeks development of a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would facilitate the addition of high levels of automation into the existing military aircraft. Photo: courtesy of DARPA.

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