ROBOpilot unmanned air platform first flights conducted by AFRL

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

Photo courtesy of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

ROBOpilot interacts with an aircraft the same way as a human pilot would. The system handles 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.

According to researchers, 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.