Intelligent Flight Control Systems – Plane with a Brain

music
ambience: Jet engine and Radio Communication

“A neural network tries to do things that are similar to what the human brain does, in that it takes a number of inputs from various sources, it processes those inputs, and comes out with some sort of a decision.”

That’s Jim Smolka, an aerospace research pilot at Dryden Flight Research Center. He’s been testing the Intelligent Flight Control System, which can allow an aircraft to make decisions following the model of the way we think. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Using the same logic as our brain’s neural network, the Intelligent Flight Control System processes bits of data from all over the aircraft and automatically adjusts rudders, flaps, and other aerodynamic surfaces to counteract any unexpected failures.

“There’s lots of variables to consider, and the neural network tries to basically analyze all those variables for you, and come up with an optimum solution.”

While it’s still in the very early stages of testing, someday this technology could be applied to commercial airplanes.

“The commercial airliner’s got in excess of twenty different aerodynamic surfaces, that are moving on the airplane. And so, there’s a lot of different surfaces available that if you could control them independently, you can make those surfaces move in ways that we don’t make them move now. And that’s where this kind of a software scheme would really be powerful, is to be able to do things with the control surfaces that we can’t do right now, but would allow us to compensate for a lot of different things that could happen to an airplane, and potentially bring airplanes back to the ground safely that currently are incapable of doing that. So that the average pilot would be able handle a fairly catastrophic situation without any special training.”

We’ll hear more about the Intelligent Flight Control System in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.

Intelligent Flight Control Systems - Plane with a Brain

How is an airplane like a human brain?
Air Date:05/23/2007
Scientist:
Transcript:

music
ambience: Jet engine and Radio Communication

“A neural network tries to do things that are similar to what the human brain does, in that it takes a number of inputs from various sources, it processes those inputs, and comes out with some sort of a decision.”

That’s Jim Smolka, an aerospace research pilot at Dryden Flight Research Center. He’s been testing the Intelligent Flight Control System, which can allow an aircraft to make decisions following the model of the way we think. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Using the same logic as our brain’s neural network, the Intelligent Flight Control System processes bits of data from all over the aircraft and automatically adjusts rudders, flaps, and other aerodynamic surfaces to counteract any unexpected failures.

“There's lots of variables to consider, and the neural network tries to basically analyze all those variables for you, and come up with an optimum solution.”

While it’s still in the very early stages of testing, someday this technology could be applied to commercial airplanes.

“The commercial airliner's got in excess of twenty different aerodynamic surfaces, that are moving on the airplane. And so, there's a lot of different surfaces available that if you could control them independently, you can make those surfaces move in ways that we don't make them move now. And that's where this kind of a software scheme would really be powerful, is to be able to do things with the control surfaces that we can't do right now, but would allow us to compensate for a lot of different things that could happen to an airplane, and potentially bring airplanes back to the ground safely that currently are incapable of doing that. So that the average pilot would be able handle a fairly catastrophic situation without any special training.”

We’ll hear more about the Intelligent Flight Control System in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA. I’m Jim Metzner.