PiBot - Not Quite The Pilot You Were Expecting
PiBot - Not Quite The Pilot You Were Expecting
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Sunday, 21 September 2014

Take a small humanoid robot, teach it the rules of flying and you have an auto-pilot that can pilot any plane with standard controls. 

If I ask you to think of an autopilot, you probably think of some control system hidden inside the plane that the pilot proper turns on with the flick of a switch.  Or, if you are a fan of movie Airplane, perhaps you think of a blow up doll that sits in the pilot's chair.

This research by a Korean team is much closer to the Airplane spoof idea. 

 

pibot1

 

Take one small humanoid robot add some special interfaces and let it control a light plane for takeoff and landing. The robot, called PiBot, has a video camera which it uses to detect the edge of the runway. It interacts with the rest the plane using a model control panel wired directly into the simulation.  

Take a look at the video to see it in action: 

 

What it crazy about this idea is that the robot has lots of facilities it doesn't really need for the job. A purpose-built autopilot doesn't need arms, legs and a head. This is an example of technological overkill - and yet in the long run it makes sense. Why build a special purpose tool when a general one will do the job? A humanoid robot could be used in any type of plane or it could switch to driving a car. In fact, it raises the question of why Google is bothering to build a self-driving car - why not just adapt Atlas to drive any car.

Before you ask - there are plans to allow PiBot to fly a real plane.

pibot2

More Information

via IEEE Spectrum

IROS - A Robot-Machine Interface for Full-Functionality Automation Using a Humanoid

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