DARPA Eyes Greater Cockpit Automation

DARPA is launching a program called Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System to mature technologies that enable higher levels of cockpit automation to help reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance, and improve safety. “Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface,” said Daniel Patt, DARPA program manager, in the agency’s April 18 release. “These capabilities could help transform the role of pilot from a systems operator to a mission supervisor directing inter-meshed, trusted, reliable systems at a high level,” he said. ALIAS is envisioned as an affordable, tailorable, removable kit that could execute a mission from takeoff to landing and handle emergency flight situations, states the release. The agency would like ALIAS to lead to a series of demonstrations, culminating in a robust flight of the prototype system. The agency plans a proposer’s day on May 14 in Arlington, Va., to familiarize potential participants with the program’s technical objectives.