PIBOT is able to execute operations such as takeoff, landing, cruise, and taxi without requiring any alterations to the actual plane itself by utilizing natural language processing and AI.
If you’ve ever waited in line for “Star Tours” at Disneyland, the picture below might look a little familiar. But this isn’t a new Star Wars attraction’s moving prop. Instead, it’s a real robot pilot that, according to reports, can learn to fly a plane just by reading the instructions.
This month, engineers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) said they had built a humanoid robot for use in flight. The robot, which is called PIBOT, sits in the cabin like a pilot and uses its “hands” to move the flying instruments. PIBOT can keep an eye on its surroundings thanks to a set of external cameras, and its high-precision handling keeps it from losing control when there is wind or other types of shaking.
PIBOT learns to fly by reading real-language flight instructions. KAIST hasn’t said much about PIBOT’s ability to understand normal language yet, but the 5-foot, 143-pound robot is said to have so much memory that it can learn and remember all Jeppesen navigation maps in the world, which no human pilot has ever been able to do. PIBOT also uses ChatGPT to look up information in an airplane’s Quick Reference Handbook (QRF) and reply to emergency situations, supposedly faster than a human driver.
Modern planes already have software called an autopilot that takes care of some of the tasks of flying. But these aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the growing demand for automation; software must be made for each type of plane. PIBOT, on the other hand, can learn how to fly almost any plane without having to change it. It can also take direct control where software can’t, which might not be much comfort if you’re worried about robots that are out of control.
So far, PIBOT has shown that it can start up a Korean light airplane called KLA-100, move it around on the ground, take off, cruise, cycle, and land. These jobs have been done in a flight control simulator that is very close to the real KLA-100, both physically and online. Since the PIBOT project won’t be done until 2026, it’s possible that the robot could fly through the clouds in the next few years. At that point, the experts want to put PIBOT on the market so that the military and civilians can use it. Professor David Hyunchul Shim, who is in charge of research, said that his team expects PIBOT to be used in cars and military trucks, among other things. They will be especially helpful when military resources are very low. What was that again about robots that fly and are run by the government?