Meet Pibot: The Humanoid Robot That Can Pilot Planes


Inspenet, August 23, 2023.

A group of engineers and researchers from the Korea Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (KAIST) is working on the development of Pibot , a humanoid robot capable of piloting aircraft without the need to modify the cockpit configuration.

“Pibot is a humanoid robot that can fly an airplane like a human pilot, manipulating all the individual controls in the cockpit, which is designed for humans,” said Next David Shim, associate professor of electrical engineering at KAIST.

This machine has the ability and dexterity to handle flight controls with precision, including instruments in challenging situations such as strong vibrations in the aircraft, thanks to its advanced control technology.

Using external cameras, Pibot can monitor the current status of the aircraft, while its internal cameras allow it to operate critical switches on the control panel. Additionally, he possesses the ability to memorize complex manuals , giving him the ability to adapt to various aircraft.

Pibot’s memory capacity is so extensive that it can store all of the world’s Jeppesen aviation navigation charts , an achievement that is unachievable for human pilots, according to the KAIST research team.

“Humans are capable of flying many planes, but they have ingrained habits. So when they try to switch to flying different planes, they have to get another qualification. Sometimes it’s not that simple, because the habit stays in our mind and we can’t.” . It’s not enough to just switch from one plane to another,” Shim said.

“With the pilot robot, if we teach the individual configuration of the aircraft, you can fly the aircraft simply by clicking on the aircraft type,” he added.

smart and versatile

Pibot can establish connections with aircraft to establish direct communication with them. Its current design has been conceived to be used in critical situations in which human intervention could be insufficient.

This humanoid robot can also engage in speech-to-text dialogues with air traffic controllers and crew members in the cockpit, allowing it to assume the role of pilot or lead commander .

Its versatility transcends the field of aviation. Standing at 160cm tall and weighing 65kg, Pibot’s human-like build enables it to seamlessly substitute for humans in tasks such as driving vehicles, operating tanks, or even leading vessels on the high seas.

According to Shim, this robot has the ability to be used in any environment where a human being is “sitting and doing work.”

“The human form may not be super efficient, but we specifically designed Pibot to have a humanoid form, because all things are designed for humans. We may have eight arms and four eyes, but we feel that the human form is of some optimal way,” Shim explained.

The robot is still in development and is expected to be finished in 2026.

According to KAIST, the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), the government entity in charge of defense technology research in South Korea, commissioned the research project and possible military uses are anticipated in the future.

ChatGPT present in Pibot development

The group of researchers affirms that Pibot is capable of understanding and retaining information from textbooks intended for humans , thanks to recent progress in advanced language models (LLM).

“We had our predecessor, a pilot robot, in 2016. We didn’t have good AI technology at the time, so what we built was a simple robot. They cannot learn anything from the literature or the manual. But recently, with ChatGPT or other large language model systems, the technology has come a long way,” Shim explained.

Thanks to the LLM, Pibot is expected to be able to fly precisely and react faster than human pilots in emergency situations.

It can store the aircraft’s operating and emergency manuals (QRH, a cabin manual that the crew can refer to in case of in-flight problems) and provide immediate responses. It can also calculate a safe route based on the flight condition of the aircraft in real time.

In addition to making use of ChatGPT, the research team is building and testing its own natural language model so that Pibot can ask questions without relying on an Internet connection.

The customized language model will focus solely on aviation-related aspects and will be stored on a small computer that can be carried on board.

Source: =%22Pibot%20 %C3% A8 %20un% 20robot %20umanoide,di% 20Engineering %20elettrica% 20al%20KAIST .


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