AFRL: ROBOpilot to begin flying again in March 2020

By Sara Sirota / October 18, 2019 at 1:57 PM

A developmental robotic pilot system that was damaged in a mishap two months ago will return to flight next March, according to an Air Force Research Laboratory official.

"A root-cause analysis of the mishap was conducted and a solution is in development," Marc Owens, ROBOpilot program manager, said in an email to Inside Defense today.

The accident occurred Aug. 22 during landing at Michael Army Airfield on Dugway Proving Ground, UT, per an AFRL statement released the following day. The lab immediately began an investigation and the fate of future testing plans at the time was unclear.

Using a simple installation process, ROBOpilot can be inserted into a general aviation aircraft like a Cessna or Piper to convert it into an unmanned aerial vehicle. The system was developed by AFRL and DZYNE Technologies via a Small Business Innovation Research program contract.

"ROBOpilot offers the benefits of unmanned operations without the complexity and upfront cost associated with the development of new unmanned vehicles," Alok Das, senior scientist with AFRL's Center for Rapid Innovation, previously said.

Before the mishap, ROBOpilot completed a successful two-hour first flight on Dugway Proving Ground on Aug. 9.