NASA has been looking for an autopilot system capable of keeping a plane flying even after it has had what would otherwise be a catastrophic failure of its systems. Jones' department at the Naval Postgraduate School is working on a possible answer. It has come up with technology known as an "adaptive controller" that it believes can keep track of a plane's autopilot, and when the aircraft is no longer functioning, it takes over.
NASA wants to test the equipment in the commercial aviation market, and has built a scale model Boeing 757 that it can load with a selection of sophisticated sensors. But at $5 million, it is too expensive to risk crashing while experimenting with the new system.
As a result, the Naval Postgraduate School is testing the technology to try to get it to the point where it is sophisticated enough to keep the model 757 aloft even in situations that would have normally have resulted in a crash.
June 21, 2012 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Naval Postgraduate School
| Caption by: Daniel Terdiman
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