Another Job Headed for Roboticized Oblivion: Co-Pilot
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The report says the contract calls for “an automated assistant” that can fly the plane, so essentially a co-pilot. Presumably the pilot will be jettisoned as well a few years later.

That innovation should be no surprise. The 1980 movie Airplane! had a functioning auto-pilot that worked perfectly well… most of the time.

Of course in 1980, the plane required a human pilot for a successful (and dramatic) landing.

But now in 2015, smart machines are doing a wide array of jobs, and it’s only the beginning. A 2013 report from Oxford University researchers estimated that “nearly half of U.S. jobs are vulnerable to computerization” within the next 20 years. So America won’t be needing millions of immigrants to do jobs that no longer exist.

Aurora to create cockpit automation, C4ISR&Networks, January 12, 2015

Aurora Flight Sciences has been awarded a $6 million DARPA contract to develop cockpit automation.

The contract, for Phase I of DARPA’s Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program, calls for Aurora to develop “an automated assistant capable of operating an aircraft from takeoff to landing, automatically executing the necessary flight and mission activities, checklists and procedures at the correct phases of flight while detecting and responding to contingencies,” said a company news release. “At the same time, the human pilot would be continuously informed through an intuitive interface of which actions the automation is executing, and take back control if so desired.”

Aurora is collaborating with the National Robotics Engineering Center and Duke Engineering Research Institute. “The ability to reassign cockpit roles, allowing humans to perform tasks best suited to humans and automation to perform tasks best suited to automation, represents a potential paradigm shift compared to how flight operations are currently conducted,” said Jessica Duda, Aurora’s ALIAS program manager. “One of our key challenges is to develop a system that creates trust between the pilot and the automated assistant.”

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