Robotic Airplane Pilots

The thought alone of boarding an airplane is enough to set plenty of people to hyperventilating. Maybe it’s the thought of being 39,000 ft. up in the air, or the idea of being enclosed in a tiny little space, breathing the breaths of hundreds of other people.

Or maybe it’s the thought that for the time you’re on a plane, you aren’t in control of your own well being. You’re trusting your life to a stranger who is guiding precious cargo 600 mph through the clouds. You don’t know how experienced the pilot is, or how strong his affinity for daredevil antics might be. At least it’s comforting to know that the pilot went through training and most likely values his own well being, and most likely the well being of his passengers.

What if the pilot was a robot?

South Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology are currently developing Pibot, a humanoid robot designed to fly aircraft. Currently the Pibot is intended for dangerous flights or missions, like flights through radiated areas or wildfires, that may be too hazardous to place a person in the captains chair. Still, you can’t help but wonder whether and when the automated flyboy might be in charge of commercial flights.

Pibot is truly humanoid, equipped with arms, legs, eyes, and the works. Pibot’s lead researcher Shim Hyung-Chul says, “The one thing that all aircraft have in common is that they were designed to be flown by humans.” That’s why the team was determined to make a humanoid robot capable of recreating human actions.

The goal for Pibot is to be capable of piloting absolutely any type of aircraft. “Pibot integrates with the aircraft’s sensors and automates their functionality”. The robot captain uses real-time vision tracking for take off and landing. So far, Pibot has successfully performed a take off and landing on a flight simulator, and a scaled down version has done the same with a toy plane.

The research team is looking to test the robot on buses before putting it in a large scale aircraft. If successful, pibot could end up replacing not only pilots, but bus drivers as well. The only question is whether or not people would board transportation piloted by a robot.

Doubtless Pibot uses servos, but perhaps not Indramat servos. If you use Indramat servos, you should know our number. That’s what you need to call if you need quick service for your Indramat motion control.