Oakland-based Pyka shares a goal common to many high-tech California aviation startups: to build an autonomous electric passenger aircraft. However, its first steps to get there have taken the company far away from the pack, first to New Zealand and now to banana plantations in Costa Rica and Ecuador, where it’s preparing to field a robotic crop-spraying airplane called Pelican that CEO Michael Norcia says will prove out technology he believes will lead the way to an era of green, low-cost passenger planes.
The fat-bellied, 500-pound plane can carry more than its weight in liquid pesticides or fertilizer, and is engineered to take off and land in a ridiculously short space: 150 feet, half the length of
The Air Force is drawing up plans for its next refueling tanker to have autonomous or semi-autonomous capabilities, thanks in part to efforts to fix the KC-46 Pegasus, according to the service’s acquisition czar.
Dr. Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, said a required redesign of the KC 46’s Remote Vision System (RVS), which permits the in-flight operator to view the refueling system below the tanker, is bringing the tanker to the brink of autonomous refueling with its latest suite of sensors and in-flight tracking.
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“The KC-46 is going to take us all the way up to the doorstep of semi-autonomous and autonomous tanking,” Roper said Wednesday during a phone call with reporters. “And the Air Force has committed to put in those algorithms because, when you