Novel autopilot in aircrafts for aerobatic manoeuvres

Researchers have made it possible for planes to guide themselves through extreme manoeuvres.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 13:41 PM IST

Sydney: It can do the loop, the barrel roll and is precise and deft. And no, it`s not a honey bee. A novel autopilot can now help aircraft perform these aerobatic manoeuvres.

Allowing aircraft to quickly sense which way is `up` by imitating how honeybees see, researchers have made it possible for planes to guide themselves through extreme manoeuvres.

"Current aircraft use gyroscopes to work out their orientation, but they are not always reliable, as the errors accumulate over long distances," said researcher Saul Thurrowgood from the Vision Centre, University of Queensland.

"Our system, which takes 1000th of a second to directly measure the position of the horizon, is much faster at calculating position and more accurate."

"With exact information about the aircraft`s surroundings delivered in negligible time, the plane can focus on other tasks," said Thurrowgood, according to a Queensland statement.

The group first "trained" the system to recognise the sky and the ground by feeding hundreds of different landscape images to it and teaching to it compare the blue colour of the sky with red-green colours of the ground.

Simple, low resolution cameras that are similar to a bee`s visual system are then attached to the aircraft, allowing the plane to take its own landscape pictures to identify the horizon while flying.

"Imagine a plane that has eyes attached to each side at the front - the wide-angle camera lenses provide a view of 360 degrees," said Thurrowgood.

IANS