Of course it's powered by AI.
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) have built a humanoid robot called Pibot that can pilot a jet — without having to make any major modifications to the cockpit.
The bug-eyed robot, which stands at just over five feet tall, can grip the controls and maintain altitude even in the roughest of conditions, Euronews reports. External cameras make sure the robot can keep track of a number of vital stats in the aircraft.
Instead of thumbing through a printed-out manual, Pibot can simply memorize documentation using — what else? — large language models.
In short, it's a fascinating swap-in for the real thing, and can even respond to emergency situations quicker than a human pilot, according to its makers.
Instead of building a remotely-controlled drone, the researchers worked with existing controls.
"Pibot is a humanoid robot that can fly an aeroplane just like a human pilot by manipulating all the single controls in the cockpit, which is designed for humans," David Shim, an associate professor of electrical engineering at KAIST, told Euronews.
"Humans can fly many aeroplanes, but they do have these habits built into them," he added. "So when they try to convert to different aeroplanes they have to take another qualification."
Fortunately, they say, Pibot can adapt to new cockpit environments through a proverbial click of a button.
"With the pilot robot, if we teach individual aeroplane configuration, then you can fly the aeroplane by simply clicking the aeroplane's type," Shim explained.
The researchers worked with AI chatbots like ChatGPT to develop ways to have the robot ingest and make sense of pilot manuals. They're now working on developing their own LLM specifically for Pibot.
As for where it could be used, the team suggests it could be deployed in extreme environments that are not suitable for humans.
Since it was developed under a contract with the South Korean defence department, Shin expects Pibot to be used in a military context no earlier than 2026.
So far, the team has only carried out simulations but is in talks with Airbus to use Pibot for test flights using its newly-developed electric aircraft.
In other words, the humanoid is ready to take the fall in case something goes wrong.
More on humanoid robots: Oh God... OpenAI Is Working on a Humanoid Robot
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