US: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, US, is planning to develop a drop-in kit that would increase automation in existing aircrafts. DARPA recently unveiled the creation of the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) programme. The programme envisions a removable and tailorable drop-in kit that would enable more automation, leveraging 50 years of advancement in aircraft automation systems. The ALIAS programme would provide a variety of benefits, including a reduced onboard crew, reduced pilot workload, improved aircraft safety and augmented mission performance.
“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. These capabilities could help transform the role of pilot from a systems operator to a mission supervisor directing intermeshed, trusted, reliable systems at a high level,” said Daniel Patt, DARPA Programme Manager. Large aircraft require rigorous safety and reliability standards and tend to be capital-intensive ventures. As a result, expenses severely limit the development of autonomous capabilities and the rate at which they are tested and fielded. The drop-in system would allow high levels of automation to be installed on a variety of aircraft, managing flight activities, conducting failure management and allowing an operator to act as a mission commander. ALIAS is focusing on three vital areas: the creation of a minimally invasive interface that will be capable of operating aircraft functions. The system is expected to be portable and only require installation in the cockpit; the acquisition of aircraft procedural information and existing flight mechanics information or models by the automation system; the development of a human interface in which the operator provides high-level input for replanning and mission-level supervision, reducing the attention load required for lower-level flight maintenance tasks.