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Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA

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Surely the robot needs software to run itself *and* land planes? That's double the effort surely?

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Trollface

No,no it just needs topping up every now and again when the air goes down.

And don't call me Shirley...

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Anonymous Coward

The human world is built around human interfaces. Once you have the design that can see and interpret the visual information that we can, hear the audible clues, and manipulate the world as we do with our hands and feet you have a design that can automate anything a human can control....... probably very very badly at first.

Hopefully from a robotic point of view flying a plane is mechanically no harder than opening a door.

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Share and enjoy!

> Hopefully from a robotic point of view flying a plane is mechanically no harder than opening a door.

So long as you get those left-side diodes replaced under warranty.

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"Hopefully from a robotic point of view flying a plane is mechanically no harder than opening a door."

Except for the minor point that said robot needs input. They mention machine vision but I'm a bit suspicious about this and unless machine vision has progessed in leaps and bounds in the last few days I'm wondering exactly how many of the dials, screens and switches it can actually read and how much training it required to be able to read tbe ones it can.

Oh , and "sitting in the co-pilots seat" seems to be a euphamism for ripping the seat out and bolting a bot in its place. Hardly a 5 minute job. I imagine it would be somewhat simpler to plug in an upgraded autopilot board that could do the job itself.

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Pint

Did you use that "surely" on purpose, to facilitate movie themed jokes? If so, have a pint!

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Need input, Stephanie!

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"Hopefully from a robotic point of view flying a plane is mechanically no harder than opening a door."

Oh crap!

https://youtu.be/UUOo8N9_iH0

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Facepalm

@Sgt Oddball

Too many mixed movie references.

All that negative energy is such a downer.

And what do you name this machine? Otto Pilot ? ;-)

And of course someone beat me to the punch.

I knew this was a bad week to stop taking meth.

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Coat

Needs a cute name

How about Otto Pilot?

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Devil

Re: Needs a cute name

Or... RUFUS!

(from a ridiculously funny sci-fi book I read decades ago, which I can't find anyplace - called "Hey, down there!" - the computer picked a name for itself, 'Rufus')

(you know the jokes are geeky enough when you have to explain them)

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WTF?

Huh?

Sorry, in a fly-by-wire plane, I simply don't understand what's the advantage to have a robotic arm moving the controls, rather than a system directly interfacing with the plane's electronics.

Unless it's purely for the challenge of doing it harder than necessary.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

no operational advantage I expect.

but it is aircraft and manufacturer independent, and can be tested in isolation. much, much easier to deploy, or indeed wrench out of the seat in the event of malfunction. Wrenching is tricky in-flight with software...

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Re: Huh?

It will still need to be customised for every type of plane, as they are all different with different characteristics - even moreso with a robot rather than fly by wire, as not only do the planes handle differently, the controls will be in different places in different cockpits...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

Customised, yes, but independently of fiddling with the fly-by-wire flight control systems themselves. Its not a free job, but far simpler than changing fundamental software components of the aircraft. This is sensible if a retrofit is required.

New aircraft could well have the software built-in and not require "protuberances" to operate the flight controls though.

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Re: Huh?

but it is aircraft and manufacturer independent, and can be tested in isolation. much, much easier to deploy, or indeed wrench out of the seat in the event of malfunction. Wrenching is tricky in-flight with software...

The image that springs to mind is Arnie wrenching the JohnnyCab robot.

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Re: Huh?

'It will still need to be customised for every type of plane, as they are all different with different characteristics'

Well it can't be that hard, meatsacks have been flying different types of aircraft for years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Huh?

"no operational advantage I expect."

Worse than that, ignoring the problems of verifying the software running the robot, the actual use of it introduces more points of failure than interfacing directly with the fly by wire system. You now have more possible mechanical points of failure, and the whole thing needs to "fail safe" i.e. it has to be mechanically impossible for it to get stuck irreversibly against the controls in a way which will cause the aircraft to crash. And then of course, there's the *more* complex task of writing the software for the thing.

Being charitable, it's a fun project, and kudos to the team for building it and making it work, but ultimately, I really hope it never makes it into a real aircraft.

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Re: Huh?

Well it can't be that hard, meatsacks have been flying different types of aircraft for years.

I have it on good authority that if you can fly a Sopwith Camel you can fly anything!

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Re: Huh?

"Well it can't be that hard, meatsacks have been flying different types of aircraft for years."

We can have this discussion again when household robots that can manually wash dishes, operate normal vacuum cleaners and generally fully care for the elderly on their own are ubiquitously common and stupidly reliable. Until then, I'm just going to assume reading this that it's either somehow April the 1st again or lots of important and apparently sane people somehow went start raving mad without anyone noticing.

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Trollface

Re: Huh?

"I have it on good authority that if you can fly a Sopwith Camel you can fly anything!"

...even a GeeBee Model R...?

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Re: Huh?

"It will still need to be customised for every type of plane [...]"

So? You need to "customise" pilots too. I.e. train and re-train them for every type they are going to fly in.

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Devil

Re: Huh?

"It will still need to be customised for every type of plane"

not if it's "human enough". Then an ODB-II type connection for aircraft, and you're all set!

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Headmaster

Re: Huh?

The 737 hasn't traditionally been a fly-by-wire plane

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Re: Huh?

"Customised, yes, but independently of fiddling with the fly-by-wire flight control systems themselves. Its not a free job, but far simpler than changing fundamental software components of the aircraft."

I don't think so. Fly by wire systems already have all the sensor inputs and control outputs necessary to fly the aircraft. All that is needed is some software to use those inputs and outputs, whilst observing flying rules (Try to land on a runway, ideally, the correct one. Don't land inverted. You need wheels to land.) A robot has to use a camera with optical recognition and mechanical manipulators - which will inevitably introduce lag and inaccuracies/errors - and then it has to have the same software to actually use inputs and flying rules to make outputs. Any system would have to be passed for use on each aircraft type.

P.S. In the video, the robot accidentally pushed the control yoke forward, whilst looking at instruments.

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Re: Huh?

"It will still need to be customised for every type of plane [...]"

"So? You need to "customise" pilots too. I.e. train and re-train them for every type they are going to fly in."

Yes. You don't have to start from scratch but there are some steps involved in switching between different aircraft types. You can't pass your PPL in a Cessna and fly a 747 the next day.

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Re: Huh?

Sorry, in a fly-by-wire plane, I simply don't understand what's the advantage to have a robotic arm moving the controls, rather than a system directly interfacing with the plane's electronics.
It's those darn robot unions.

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Alert

Re: Huh?

Pedant alert ...

You can't pass your PPL in a Cessna and fly a 747 the next day.

Actually, yes you can if you have the money. I believe it is technically possible to train for and get your PPL in a 747 - though the difference in cost between the per-hour cost of a light piston single and a 747 would make it a very expensive proposition.

Assuming you took the conventional route to your PPL (SEP(A)), you could still jump in a 747 the next day if you had the money to buy lessons for the type-specific qualification.

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Re: Huh?

"

It will still need to be customised for every type of plane

"

It could have the same central "autopilot engine" software for all types, but supplied with different fixed parameters for each aircraft type. The physics of fixed-wing subsonic flight are the same for all aircraft from a two-seat Cessna to an Airbus, only the physical constants (and a few variables such as position & quantity of loaded mass) cause the differences in behaviour. Many of the less significant variables could even be learned by the autopilot literally "on the fly" (auto-tuning). No need for visual recognition or cameras either, the autopilot can have its own set of gyro instruments and radio navigation receivers, and will need only external connections to a couple of aerials and a pitot and static air feed (readily available or easily tapped), and maybe the AoA indicator - though that can be computed from other data so is not strictly necessary except as a cross-check.

The big advantage is that you only need one such autopilot to be able to equip any one of a fleet of different aircraft on demand, rather than fitting every aircraft with a full autopilot on the off-chance that it will one day be needed for operational reasons. The mechanical connections can be engineered so as to easily adjust or have adaptors fitted to suit a wide range of cockpit layouts, so installation does not have to take weeks.

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Go

Re: Huh?

"It will still need to be customised for every type of plane"

No, "I'm sorry Dave I can't let you have back control" would be universal for any plane?

Shirly.

"I'm sorry Shirly ..." might be more inclusive though.

Shirly?

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Re: Huh?

The 737 is a very common plane and was probably easy to "borrow" one for the test. I would think that the fly-by-wire automations were turned off to allow the robot to do it's thing with human oversight. Or perhaps the on-board system was allowed to be active to compare notes, so to speak.

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Re: Huh?

Acutally watching it the robot used the auto pilot to do the job - the only actual flight controls it used were the flap lever ( because there is no auto flap on this type) and the reverse thrust levers (after it's touched down) every thing else was done with the auto pilot and auto throttle controls (the knobs and buttons just below the glare shield).

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Anonymous Coward

Using one's protuberances to pilot an aircraft

Now that is just showing off...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Using one's protuberances to pilot an aircraft

Beware the back seat driver...

Yikes!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Using one's protuberances to pilot an aircraft

.... and no one likes a clever dick.

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Unsubscribe

No still of the inflatable autopilot from Airplane. Shirley you can't be serious.

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Re: Unsubscribe

Yes.

Yes they are.

And stop calling me Shirley.

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Re: Unsubscribe

We don't come here for actual pictures of the device in the factual headline, we want alliterated click-bait with a totally inappropriate images !

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aui

Re: Unsubscribe

Methinks this still from Fireball XL5 would have been better: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/sqdT3GJaMpM/0.jpg

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unsubscribe

"click-bait with a totally inappropriate images "

Been a while since we saw

https://regmedia.co.uk/2011/11/09/eee_4.jpg

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Joke

Voice recognition

"Okay 'Otto', I have the controls"

"I'm sorry Dave..."

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Re: Voice recognition

"Okay 'Otto', I have the controls"

Roger, Over.

What's our vector, Victor?

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Re: Voice recognition

Roger!

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Coat

Surely someone is thinking....

"Land the plane he says." Here I am, brain the size of a small planet and he asks me to land the plane.

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Re: Surely someone is thinking....

Looks like a skutter to me.

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Devil

I suppose

This is the fix for the F35 flight avionics SW issues...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I suppose

I thought the fix for that was the ground at 500mph...i.e. give it a bash and maybe it will work..

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M7S
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Terminator

It is to pre-empt the "Galactica" defence

So if you think you can resist the RoTM by keeping some of your weapons off grid, once they've gained access to your base, they take them directly and use them against you.

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PTW
Happy

R2D2's time has come

see title

Edit: O.K. well he didn't use protuberances to fly, but still I'd rather think of him in the co-pilot seat than a T2

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Anonymous Coward

Re: R2D2's time has come

I am sure R2D2 used his protuberance to screw into various interfaces while making little squeaking sounds!

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