Korean researchers are developing a humanoid “pibot” that looks like a character from a 1960s science fiction sitcom but unlike most autonomous flight systems, this one can literally fill in for pilots in any aircraft. The team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) say their creation can fly a plane without any modifications to the flight deck. “Pibot is a humanoid robot that can fly an [airplane] just like a human pilot by manipulating all the single controls in the cockpit, which is designed for humans,” David Shim, an associate professor of electrical engineering at KAIST, told Euronews Next.
Pibot has arms and hands with enough dexterity to manipulate controls as accurately in turbulence as a human, but the team says it has other capabilities that far outstrip those of mere mortals. For instance, the full library of Jeppesen charts is stored in memory as are any relevant manuals and reference material. It also gets real-time video from cameras mounted inside and outside the flight deck. The data for the aircraft it’s flying is loaded into that memory without bias learned from other platforms. Artificial intelligence allows it to understand all that information, including emergency procedures, and apply it to the mission at hand. “With the pilot robot, if we teach individual aeroplane configuration, then you can fly the aeroplane by simply clicking the aeroplane’s type,” Shim told Euronews Next.