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Air Force Tests Robot Pilot



 
 
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Old August 19th 19, 03:11 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Posts: 3,892
Default Air Force Tests Robot Pilot


Air Force Tests Robot Pilot

By Russ Niles - August 18, 20193

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/dQxacTMu7XU

The Air Force has flown a Cessna 206 with a robotic pilot it says can
essentially turn an aircraft into a drone and then get turned back
into a manned aircraft. The ROBOpilot flew a two hour autonomous test
flight at Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground Aug. 9 handling the takeoff,
flight maneuvers and landing without human intervention. “Imagine
being able to rapidly and affordably convert a general aviation
aircraft, like a Cessna or Piper, into an unmanned aerial vehicle,
having it fly a mission autonomously, and then returning it back to
its original manned configuration,” said Dr. Alok Das, senior
scientist with the Air Force Research Lab’s, or AFRL’s, Center for
Rapid Innovation, in a statement. “All of this is achieved without
making permanent modifications to the aircraft.” DZYNE Technologies is
partnering with the Air Force in developing the kit.

The machine mimics human interaction with all the yoke and pedals,
along with all the knobs and switches on the panel, even watching the
gauges. “At the same time, the system uses sensors, like GPS and an
Inertial Measurement Unit [essentially a way for a machine to locate
itself in space without GPS] for situational awareness and information
gathering. A computer analyzes these details to make decisions on how
to best control the flight,” AFRL said in a statement. The
accompanying video shows the robot making the corrections necessary to
stay on the centerline during takeoff and maintaining runway heading
after takeoff. The robot bounced the landing but recovered.
-----------------------------------------------------------

http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/...rtunities.aspx

Cessna-Turned-Drone Foreshadows Future Unmanned Opportunities
8/16/2019
—RACHEL S. COHEN?

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

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 Aug. 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 Aug. 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.”

Cessna body photo.JPG
Rear view of the installed ROBOpilot system during preflight for first
flight. Photo: Courtesy via USAF.

ROBOpilot is installed by replacing the pilot’s seat with a frame that
contains commercially produced actuators, electronics, cameras, power
systems, and a robotic arm. The system opens new, less costly
opportunities to turn manned aircraft into drones in combat situations
where the Air Force may not want to send human pilots. It also offers
the option to take the human out of the cockpit in other assets like
cargo planes to free people up for other work.

“ROBOpilot offers the benefits of unmanned operations without the
complexity and upfront cost associated with the development of new
unmanned vehicles,” Alok Das, a senior scientist with AFRL’s Center
for Rapid Innovation, said in the release.

AFRL and DZYNE created and tested ROBOpilot over the past year under a
Small Business Innovation Research contract. The system has simulated
takeoffs, mission navigation, and landings in a Federal Aviation
Administration-certified trainer.

The Air Force did not say what ROBOpilot’s next steps are or whether
it plans to test the system on an in-service platform.
-----------------------------------------------------------

https://www.defenseone.com/technolog...-plane/159211/

Air Force Tests Contraption That Can Turn Any Plane Into a Robot Plane

Scientists say new ROBOpilot completed a two-hour test flight,
essentially turning a manned plane into a drone.

Air Force scientists have announced that they had tested a robot kit
that can turn virtually any plane into a self-piloting drone, through
a program called ROBOpilot.

Why is that important? For starters, planes and drones are expensive.
The drone shot down over Iran last month cost $220 million. For years
the military has rushed to fund fabulous, exquisite drones of all
shapes and sizes. Some, like the $15 million MQ-9 Reaper from General
Atomics, are cheaper than manned military aircraft. But the big ones
are more expensive than many types of civilian sport aircraft.

“Imagine being able to rapidly and affordably convert a general
aviation aircraft, like a Cessna or Piper, into an unmanned aerial
vehicle, having it fly a mission autonomously, and then returning it
back to its original manned configuration,” said Dr. Alok Das, senior
scientist with the Air Force Research Lab’s, or AFRL’s, Center for
Rapid Innovation, in a statement. “All of this is achieved without
making permanent modifications to the aircraft.” AFRL has partnered
with DZYNE Technologies to produce the kit. http://www.dzynetech.com/

The system interacts with flight controls just like a human pilot,
pushing all the correct buttons, flipping the switches, manipulating
the yoke and throttle and watching the gages. “At the same time, the
system uses sensors, like GPS and an Inertial Measurement Unit
[essentially a way for a machine to locate itself in space without
GPS] for situational awareness and information gathering. A computer
analyzes these details to make decisions on how to best control the
flight,” AFRL said in a statement. Once the flight is done, the kit
can be pulled out and the plane reconverted to one requiring a human
pilot.

On August 9, the system completed a two-hour test flight at Utah’s
Dugway Proving Ground.

In theory, the same or a similar technology could be applied to
expensive fighter aircraft. And the military has said that the next,
sixth-generation fighter will be optionally manned. But the military
has expressed reservations about allowing autonomous software to
undertake lethal actions, so don’t expect to see ROBOpilot doing
combat missions anytime soon.
-----------------------------------------------------------

https://www.wpafb.af.mil/News/Articl...f-robopilot-u/

Air Force Research Laboratory successfully conducts first flight of
ROBOpilot Unmanned Air Platform
By 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published August 15, 2019

Rear view of the installed ROBOpilot system during preflight for first
flight. (Courtesy photo)
PHOTO DETAILS / DOWNLOAD HI-RES 1 of 4
Rear view of the installed ROBOpilot system during preflight for first
flight. (Courtesy photo)

ROBOpilot First Flight Video
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The Air Force Research
Laboratory and DZYNE Technologies Incorporated successfully completed
a two-hour initial flight of a revolutionary Robotic Pilot Unmanned
Conversion Program called ROBOpilot Aug. 9 at Dugway Proving Ground in
Utah.

“This flight test is a testament to AFRL’s ability to rapidly innovate
technology from concept to application in a safe build up approach
while still maintaining low cost and short timelines,” said Maj. Gen.
William Cooley, AFRL Commander.

“Imagine being able to rapidly and affordably convert a general
aviation aircraft, like a Cessna or Piper, into an unmanned aerial
vehicle, having it fly a mission autonomously, and then returning it
back to its original manned configuration,” said Dr. Alok Das, Senior
Scientist with AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation. “All of this is
achieved without making permanent modifications to the aircraft.”

As the vision for AFRL’s CRI Small Business Innovative Research
project with DZYNE Technologies of Irvine, California, ROBOpilot
interacts with an aircraft the same way as a human pilot would.

For example, 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.

ROBOpilot also boasts a simple installation process. Users remove the
pilot’s seat and install a frame in its place, which contains all the
equipment necessary to control the aircraft including actuators,
electronics, cameras, power systems and a robotic arm.

Das explains that this non-invasive approach to robotically piloted
aircraft leverages existing commercial technology and components.
ROBOpilot incorporates many subsystems and lessons learned from
previous AFRL and DZYNE Technology aircraft conversion programs.

“ROBOpilot offers the benefits of unmanned operations without the
complexity and upfront cost associated with the development of new
unmanned vehicles,” Das said.

AFRL developed the system using a Direct to Phase II SBIR contract.
During the past year, AFRL and DZYNE designed, built and tested
ROBOpilot. Engineers demonstrated the initial concept in a RedBird FMX
simulator, a full motion, feature-rich advanced aviation training
device. ROBOpilot successfully completed simulated autonomous
takeoffs, mission navigation and landings in both nominal and
off-nominal conditions in this Federal Aviation
Administration-certified trainer.

As an early adopter of creating disruptive innovation through paradigm
shifts, AFRL established the Center for Rapid Innovation in 2006 to
streamline AFRL’s application of new and existing technologies to
address dynamic changes in air, space, ground, and cyber battlespaces
and solve evolving and urgent operational challenges. The execution of
this unique process uses diverse subject matter expertise and a
collaborative government-industry technical and management capability
to rapidly develop, test and deploy innovative prototype solutions for
dynamic operational environments.

CRI routinely uses the SBIR program to identify both disruptive
technology and innovative engineering talent for its projects. Working
with teams of innovative small businesses, CRI has demonstrated
numerous operational successes such as back-packable, precision strike
platforms for high-value fleeting targets; counter-improvised
explosive device (IED); counter drone capabilities; and secure
on-the-move communications. Several efforts have even transitioned to
Air Force Programs of Record.

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific
research and development center for the Air Force. AFRL plays an
integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration
of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and
cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine
technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL
provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from
fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more
information, visit: www.afresearchlab.com.
-----------------------------------------------------------

https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Biograph...9/dr-alok-das/

DR. ALOK DAS


PRINT | E-MAIL


DOWNLOAD HI-RES

Dr. Alok Das, a member of the scientific and professional cadre of
senior executives, is Senior Scientist for Design Innovation, Air
Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As
the laboratory's chief innovation officer he serves as the principal
adviser to the commander in formulating, planning and implementing
technology and process innovation strategies throughout the
organization. He also leads the AFRL rapid reaction team that utilizes
innovation and collaboration, providing near-term solutions to the
warfighter's highest priority urgent needs.

Dr. Das started his career as a controls engineer at the Indian Space
Research Organization, designing attitude control systems for some of
India's initial earth observation satellites. In 1984 he joined the
Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory. As the technical lead for the
emerging large space structures area, he developed it into the Defense
Department's premiere facility for developing and demonstrating
advanced technologies for modeling, and precise control of such
systems. Later, working closely with the Ballistic Missile Defense
Organization, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, he was instrumental in
the development and transition of the emerging smart structures
technology. He also worked with NASA on several initiatives, including
the New Millennium Program.

Since 1997, Dr. Das has focused on exploring revolutionary space
mission architectures, satellite designs and technologies to radically
reduce the cost, while enhancing the capability and operating
flexibility of space systems. Prior to his current assignment, he was
Chief Scientist, Space Vehicles, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M. Dr. Das has
written more than 60 technical articles on space technologies.

EDUCATION
1976 Bachelor of Engineering degree in electronics and communications
engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
1978 Master of Engineering degree in aeronautical engineering, Indian
Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
1982 Doctor of Philosophy in aerospace engineering, Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

CAREER CHRONOLOGY
1. 1978 - 1980, controls engineer, Indian Space Research Organization,
Bangalore, India
2. 1982 - 1984, research associate, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and
State University, Edwards AFB, Calif.
3. 1984 - 1986, aerospace engineer, Air Force Rocket Propulsion
Laboratory, Edwards AFB, Calif.
4. 1986 - 1988, aerospace engineer, Astronautics Laboratory, Edwards
AFB, Calif.
5. 1989 - 1993, technical adviser, Space Vehicle Structures and
Controls Division, Space Technology Directorate, Phillips Laboratory,
Edwards AFB, Calif. 6. 1993 - 1996, technical adviser, Space Vehicle
Structures and Controls Division, Space Technology Directorate,
Phillips Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
7. 1996 - 1997, technical adviser, Space Vehicle Technologies
Division, Space Technology Directorate, Phillips Laboratory, Kirtland
AFB, N.M.
8. 1997 - 1998, technical adviser, Space Vehicle Integration and
Demonstration Division, Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research
Laboratory, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
9. 1999 - 2004, Senior Scientist for Space Structures and Control,
Space Vehicles Directorate, AFRL, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
10. 2004 - 2007, Chief Scientist, Space Vehicles, AFRL, Kirtland AFB,
N.M.
11. 2007 - present, Senior Scientist for Design Innovation, AFRL,
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

AWARDS AND HONORS
1988 Scientist/Engineer Excellence Award, Air Force Astronautics
Laboratory
1991 Meritorious Achievement Award, American Defense Preparedness
Association
1995 NASA Achievement Award, Small Spacecraft Technology Initiative
Team
1999 Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
2000 Smart Structures and Materials Achievement Award, International
Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE)
2008 Meritorious Senior Professional Presidential Rank Award

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS AND ASSOCIATIONS
Former member, Organizing Committee, First and Second NASA/DOD
Control/Structures Interaction Conference
Former general chairman, First and Second U.S. Air Force and NASA
Workshop on System Identification and Health Monitoring of Precision
Space Structures
Former member, AIAA Structural Dynamics Technical Committee
Former member, Joint AIAA/American Society for Mechanical Engineers
and SPIE Planning Group, AIAA SDM Conference
Former general chairman, First Conference on Smart Structures and
Materials, SPIE
Former member, Program Committee, SPIE Conference on Smart Structures
and Materials
Former member, Mechanical Engineers Technical Committee on Adaptive
Structures and Materials Systems, ASME
Former executive program chair, Space Technology Conference and
Exposition, AIAA

(Current as of January 2009)
---------------------------------------------------

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