We already have robots that can fly themselves, but researchers over at KAIST can do you one better: they’ve developed a robot that can learn to fly actual airplanes.
The robot, called PIBOT — that’s “pilot” and “robot” mashed together — was designed by a team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, and consists of a Bioloid Premium robot kit with a few choice modifications (bonus: a Bioloid Premium can be yours now for only $1,199).
Using a video camera attached to its tiny robot face, PIBOT’s software detects important visual things like runways and the sky, and has access to an array of buttons, switches, and sticks to control the (virtual) airplane itself. And, as a robot, it has a distinct advantage that humans don’t — all the plane’s vital information, including altitude and direction, are fed directly into PIBOT’s robot brain.
PIBOT’s only seen a flight simulator so far (and a model biplane), but I imagine the KAIST team hopes to move on to actual planes for real testing in the future. For now, check out the video above, and look forward to a time when your pilot isn’t named Ted, but rather RX-24. What could go wrong?