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Old August 22nd 17, 01:35 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Bruce Hoult
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Posts: 961
Default Microsoft Teaches Autonomous Gliders to Make Decisions on the Fly

On Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at 2:56:40 AM UTC+3, Martin Gregorie wrote:
On Thu, 17 Aug 2017 02:55:35 -0700, Bob wrote:

Here we go...


This is all really quite old news. It is annoying to see supposedly
leading newspapers believing company guff about this sort of stuff when
the pioneering work was done ten years ago by a PHD student, Daniel
Edwards, and which was good enough to gain his doctorate. The project was
called ALOFT, and was unveiled (papers and thesis published) in 2008.
ALOFT is an acronym for Autonomous Locator OF Thermals. Here are
relevant links.

The PHD thesis:

Control system description: see NRL/FR/5712--15-10,272

This describes the contest the ALOFT system competed in:

Since all this was published back in 2008, I really find it hard to
believe that anybody can have the sheer cheek to claim to have done
original research in this area without acknowledging to previous work
done by Dan Edwards, yet there's no mention of either him or of ALOFT in
the NYT article.

Of interest to glider pilots is that this project managed to successfully
find and centre in thermals using only the data available from a GPS: the
5m model glider carried a pressure-based altimeter but got better results
by using GPS altitude and ROC calculated from it because that was a less
noisy signal than the pressure altimeter could provide.

That seems very strange and completely against the experience of every glider pilot with both a GPS and a modern MEMS pressure sensor based computerised vario.