We already knew that in some specific cases, robots are better pilots than humans, but this footage from Rockwell Collins really drives home the fact that under extreme circumstances, there’s just no out-flying a robot. This small autonomous demonstrator suffers all kinds of damage, but not only does it not crash, it keeps on flying its mission and then lands. For the record, humans are pretty adaptable too, but this next one takes the cake:
Let me just reiterate what’s going on here: the aircraft has no aileron control and is rolling randomly, but is still able to navigate in three dimensional space (it’s flying in a big circle) by using its other control surfaces in conjunction with whatever its roll angle happens to be. At roll speeds of up to 500 degrees per second, there is no way a human could do this, but to the robot, it’s just not that big of a deal.
This technology is great for UAVs, of course, but personally I wouldn’t mind in the least if every airplane I flew on had this capability sitting dormant in a subroutine somewhere until the wing falls off and everybody starts to PANIC and then realizes oh, it’s fine, apparently we don’t need that wing anyway. Next up: cut-rate airlines invest in adaptive intelligent flight control technology, auction off wings and tails.