Robot Dog Astro Can Sit, Lie Down, and Save LivesMIT’s AI Knitting System Designs, Creates Woven Garments Stay on target Robotic arms can already perform surgery, give people tattoos and play one hell of a game of ping pong. Thanks to a DARPA project, now they can even fly airplanes.Virginia-based Aurora Flight Services calls their creation ALIAS: Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System. Aurora says that it’s all about “allowing humans to perform tasks best suited to humans and automation to perform tasks best suited to automation.” It’s actually a two-part system. There’s the robotic arm that takes over the co-pilot’s seat and a dedicated tablet.The tablet allows the human pilot to do things like engage and disengage ALIAS… and presumably play Hearthstone once ALIAS takes over and does all the hard stuff. No, not really, but the pilot can take a bit of a breather and limit duties to things like keeping an eye on cloud formations — or incoming threats in a military setting.Autopilot sure has come a long way since Ted Striker had to deal with this joker as a co-pilot…ALIAS is a lot more than just an arm. Its eyes, ears, and brain all play very important roles, too. They allow it to take instructions and learn control layouts of a new aircraft in as little as thirty minutes. To date, ALIAS has learned how to fly a simulator and a real Cessna and now it’s learning to fly a helicopter — all in just over twelve months’ time.It’s an extremely impressive feat, despite all the jokes that get cracked about flying an aircraft being so easy that even John Travolta can do it.