Aurora robotic co-pilot demonstrates capabilities on a simulated Boeing 737

Aurora Flight Sciences´ work on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)´s Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program has further demonstrated its automated flight capabilities with various successful flight scenarios in a Boeing 737 simulator, the company said.

These accomplishments build on Aurora´s successful installation and testing of ALIAS components on a Diamond DA42, Cessna 208 Caravan, UH-1 Iroquois, and DHC-2 Beaver aircraft.

Aurora´s ALIAS technology demonstration system is designed to function as a second pilot in a two-crew aircraft, enabling reduced crew operations while ensuring that aircraft performance and mission success are maintained or improved.

Demonstrated on a Boeing 737-800NG simulator at the US Department of Transportation´s John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, ALIAS displayed its ability to utilize the existing 737 auto-landing system to autonomously land the aircraft safely in the event of pilot incapacitation.

In the demonstration, ALIAS actualized DA42 cockpit procedures in real time and, overseen by an onboard safety pilot, conducted a fully automated landing at a simulated site at 3,000 ft. in altitude.

Aurora´s ALIAS solution includes the use of in-cockpit machine vision, robotic components to actuate the flight controls, an advanced tablet-based user interface, speech recognition and synthesis, and a knowledge acquisition process that facilitates transition of the automation system to another aircraft within a 30-day period. Aurora is also working on a version of the system without robotic actuation that instead aims to support the pilot by tracking aircraft physical, procedural, and mission states, increasing safety by actively updating pilot situational awareness.