Cessna-Turned-Drone Foreshadows Future Unmanned Opportunities

A 1968 Cessna 206 with ROBOpilot installed preparing for engine start on the runway at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah (courtesy photo via USAF).

A 1968 Cessna 206 with ROBOpilot installed preparing for engine start on the runway at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah (courtesy photo via USAF).

September 1, 2019 | Source: Air Force Magazine, airforcemag.com, 16 August 2019

A recent successful Air Force Research Laboratory flight demonstration brings the service closer to a future that could rely more heavily on machines than human pilots.

For the first time on August 9, AFRL and DZYNE Technologies flew a real plane—a 1968 Cessna 206—equipped with ROBOpilot, a system that can temporarily convert a manned aircraft into a robotically flown version. The test took place at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

“ROBOpilot interacts with an aircraft the same way as a human pilot would,” the Air Force said in an August 15 release. “The system 'grabs' the yoke, pushes on the rudders and brakes, controls the throttle, flips the appropriate switches, and reads the dashboard gauges the same way a pilot does. At the same time, the system uses sensors, like GPS and an inertial measurement unit, for situational awareness and information gathering. A computer analyzes these details to make decisions on how to best control the flight.”


Related Link

 DZYNE Technologies, Creating Innovative, Intelligent, Autonomous Aircraft

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