Military Embedded Systems

Unmanned air platform deemed ROBOpilot undergoes more flight tests


October 21, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

AFRL photo.

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio. Flight testing of the ROBOpilot unmanned air platform has been resumed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Center for Rapid Innovation (CRI) and DZYNE Technologies Incorporated. The platform completed a fourth flight test at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, during which ROBOpilot flew for approximately 2.2 hours, completing all test objectives.

According to the Air Force, this event represents a return to flight for ROBOpilot, which completed its first flight in August 2019, but later incurred damage during a landing mishap after a two-hour-flight.

ROBOpilot is an applique kit that is designed to convert a general aviation aircraft into an unmanned aerial vehicle without making any permanent modifications to the aircraft. The system is intended to fly missions autonomously and then be removed to return the plane to its manned configuration. Installation involves removing the seats and attaching the robot to the seat rails, according to the Air Force.

ROBOpilot is designed to interact with the aircraft in the same manner as a pilot would. ROBOpilot is built with its own internal sensors, like GPS and an inertial measurement unit, for situational awareness. A computer analyzes all information to make decisions on how best to control the flight.