- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Pentagon’s research agency tasked with developing breakthrough technologies for national security has come up with a plan for dealing with shrinking budgets: robotic flight crews.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on technology that will be able to replace up to five crew members on military aircraft, in effect making the lone human operator a “mission supervisor,” tech magazine Wired reported.

The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) would offer the military a “tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would enable the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft to enable operation with reduced onboard crew,” DARPA said.

“Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface,” said DARPA program manager Daniel Patt said in a statement. “These capabilities could help transform the role of pilot from a systems operator to a mission supervisor directing intermeshed, trusted, reliable systems at a high level.”

DARPA asserts that the technology will then free up servicemen to focus on mission-level tasks, Wired reported.

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