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DARPA Accelerates ­ltimate Automated Pilot Software

By Network World

March 17, 2015

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The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded its first contracts to vendors to build an automated system designed to reduce pilot fatigue.

The idea behind the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) is an automation software kit intended to integrate with existing aircraft systems and enable operation with a reduced flight crew. Despite undergoing extensive training regimens, operators can experience fatigue due to extreme workloads during emergencies and other unexpected situations. As an automation system, ALIAS would execute a planned mission from takeoff to landing, even amid such contingency events as aircraft system failures. The ALIAS system would include persistent state monitoring and rapid procedure recall to further enhance flight safety.

In Phase 1 of ALIAS, DARPA plans to target three critical technology areas: minimally invasive interfaces between new automation systems and existing aircraft, knowledge acquisition on aircraft operations to support rapid adaptation of the ALIAS toolkit across different aircraft, and human-machine interfaces to enable high-level human supervision instead of requiring pilots' constant monitoring of lower-level flight maintenance tasks.

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